Of the following two choices, which would you rather have?
Choice #1 – High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, salt, celulose gum, molasses, potassium sorbate, sodium hexametaphosphate, citric acid, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors
Choice #2 – Sap
The first option is the ingredient list of one of the most popular syrup’s found on grocery shelves. The second is what we’ll have in our pantry later this evening.
Yesterday, Steph and I went out to visit Tom, one of her co-workers. They were having a syrup boil. This was seriously the old fashion way of making syrup. By the time we arrived, they already had upwards of 150 gallons of sap waiting to be boiled. We needed more of course – it’s about a 35 to 1 ratio – so we headed out to the trees with Tom. He had already tapped about two dozen maple trees. Some of the five gallon buckets were overflowing. We ended up with roughly another 85 gallons that we took back to the boilers.
The boilers, wow, that was quite a setup. Steph’s heading out later today to help with canning so I’ll see if she can get some pictures of them. Basically, they are larger wood stoves with metal tub pans on top. A smoke stack comes out of each one. The stacks are important because inside each of them (well, one, the other wasn’t finished yet) there is 10 foot of coiled copper tubing. The sap is poured into a large barrel that feeds into the copper tube. This heats the sap up so that when it finally empties into the tub, it doesn’t reduce the heat too much. (Last year, they did not have the copper and poured the barrels directly into the tub. This stopped the boil each time.)
At that point, you sit around, chat, and watch the fire. Add in more sap when the level gets low. When you get hungry, someone will bring out venison sausage which tastes fantastic dipped in the boiling sap. Have some maple tea (take one mug, dip into boiling sap, allow to cool, yum).
The entire process takes about 24 hours or so until its of good consistency. And that’s it.
No hexametawhatamacallit. No corn syrup. Just fresh, natural syrup.
Who wouldn’t want that?