Collecting sap is a difficult task. We start by being mindful of all the things we need to take up onto Sugar Hill so we can maximize our time. One- and five-gallon jugs have to be taken up the hill to replace those that may still be frozen or overflowing. In late February we still had a great number of jugs that were frozen and we needed to act quickly because the warm weather would approach rapidly.
The dogs can't wait to get into the act. They typically scavenge for rodents and small animals under tree trunks.
We had the largest one-day collection ever this year at seventy gallons. Because our collection system is by hand and not by a series of tubes running to an evaporator that seventy gallons took 7 man hours to collect.
Our sugar shack is an old corn crib, converted to maintain a good fire out of the elements. The reduction tank is a repurposed, 27 gallon stainless sink resting atop sixteen cinder blocks and the fire is maintained underneath. When the sap is running, this requires maintenance 24 hours a day. Therefore we take shifts through the night when processing the sap to syrup.
Time to pile the wood on and light the fire. It's going to be a long night.
When the sap is reduced by about 95%, and reaches a temperature of 215 degrees, it is then taken to the farmhouse kitchen, poured through a preliminary filter, then reduced further. When it reaches 219.5 degrees, it's syrup. It is then poured through two more filters, reheated to 180 degrees, and bottled.