I wrote already about how we tapped our tree and have been collecting sap.Yesterday we cooked it down and turned it into syrup. Have you ever heard of the book The $68 Tomato? It’s about a guy and gardening and figuring out that his home grown tomato is actually very expensive with all the stuff he puts into it. Our free syrup is a little bit like that. The tap for the tree was a mere $3 and we used our own recycled milk jugs and wire hangers to hang it from the tree. But when it came to cooking it we were stumped. The best answer (based on a friend who did this and some online research) is to use a turkey fryer. You need to cook it outside (so sugar doesn’t invisibly coat your indoors) and for a long time and in a big container. We decided to go ahead and get one, especially since we learned that lots of people find use for them for things like corn on the cob and seafood and other big items.
So we hooked up the fryer to the propane and began cooking the sap.
After it had boiled about 3 hours it had reduced enough to bring it inside and cook it in a small pot on the stove. At this point we watched it closely, just like candymaking. (I said, “we’d better be careful, if this boils over it will be a nightmare on the stove.” and then it did and then I burned myself wiping the boiling sugar off the cooktop.)
And here you have the syrup! It looks like honey and is fairly thin. We probably could have cooked it longer (and apparently can cook it more today if we want to), but it tastes just right so we’re good with it. Our yield was 8oz from 3 gallons, which was more than we expected, but apparently how much you get varies on the concentration in the sap and we may have gotten the sap at a nice high concentration.
We’re boiling up another batch today.