Many of you have asked where in the world I've been.

All I know is that after 7 plus years of blogging and a different lappy, which I don’t like, I seem to have lost my blogging fervor.

Someday, when you least expect it, I will post again.

For those of you still waiting I say thank you.

Meanwhile, I am rather prolific on twitter. Find me: @KeethaB
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The Eclectic Company - Waitin' on a New Adventure!!
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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sugar Shack in the Sugar Bush


My cousin Doug was QUITE a hit yesterday with his "Thrifty Vintage Cloche Outdoor Tablescape Foodie" post. And let me just tell you, YOU my dear readers have impeccable taste because he is SOOOO worth being famous in the blog universe. (You know - - - the whole entire universe of my 64 little followers - - - and while we're ON that subject, if you are READING here and have NOT put your little picture in my blog followers box, let me just ask WHY??? I wanna have a popular blog too you know)

So - - - today I'm going to tell you about the Sugar Shack which was mentioned in yesterday's post.

Doug is a master of the "Sugar Bush." The sugar bush refers to maple trees, the collecting of their sap, and the reducing of that sap to produce the delectable delight we all know as maple syrup.

I just asked dad what a "maple syrup maker" would be called. Dad said, "You call him your cousin." Hmmmmm - - - wonder where I got my sense of humor??? (Actually, I was doubly blessed in that department as mom was quite funny and witty too.)

Now back to our NEW "Hero-of-the-Web" and his Sugar Bush.

This "sugar shack" to which I referred was NOT an outhouse as some of you PROBABLY thought - - - come on, admit it, you THOUGHT it - - - but IS in fact the storage site for all the "stuff" needed to make the syrup, including lots of buckets for collecting sap, spiles (which you might think of as spouts which are stuck into the tree in the spring) and a long narrow pan in which the sap will be reduced.

In the woods behind the sugar shack are lots of sugar maples. In the spring when the sap is ready to "run," Doug places a spile in each tree and hangs a bucket to collect the sap.

Once there is sap in the bucket, he pours it into this stainless steel pot which can hold 200 gallons of sap. All this hauling buckets to collect sap is done by hand.

Once reduced, these 200 gallons of sap will make 6 gallons of syrup. That's right - - - only SIX gallons of syrup for every 200 gallons of sap. So, the next time you are about to complain about the PRICE on a bottle of pure maple syrup, think of the WORK involved to GET it, and pay the price. Syrup producers all over the world will thank you.

Doug reduces his syrup over a wood fire in the time honored and historical way.

And as an added benefit of cutting, chopping, and collecting all this wood - - - he is able to HEAT his home on subartic Wisconsin winter nights with this:

He says there is nothing better than getting thoroughly cold shoveling a driveway and THEN coming in to soak up the warmth of his Franklin stove.

But I digress - - -back to the bush - - -

This is Doug's fire pit over which he reduces the sap into syrup. He places the long, trough-like sap filled pan over the fire and watches it boil down. The MOMENT it reaches 212 degrees fahrenheit, he pulls it off the fire because it is finished. Longer and it will be ruined and go to sugar.

He bottles it hot so the lid will seal down, preserving it perfectly.

Pure liquid gold.

Last season Doug collected 1400 gallons of sap.
From that he produced 46 gallons of syrup.

People hear about his syrup word-of-mouth and they come in droves to buy it.

He said he is a softy and ends up selling more than he really wants to.

I didn't have the heart to ask for a pint - - - though I must confess, I was coveting one in my heart!!!



Trish said...

Whew...what a lot of work! When buying, I will never gripe again...PROMISE!

Lynn said...

Thank you for the unusual but interesting tutorial!
That guy works HARD!!!!

Keep all of us informed!

KBeau said...

I really thought a sugar shack was kind of like a love shack. So you learn something new every day.

Cindy said...

Love it!

Joy Tilton said...

You need to covet a little in "I would just love to have a wee bit of syrup..."
(Begging is a learned trait!)

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Very interesting. Nothing like a teacher explaining this stuff. You do such a great job! The last time my husband was in Canada he bought home some syrup that a friend of his makes and cans. He can't sell it in stores but at farmer's markets & such. Thanks for the great pictures. Seems like a great trip you are having.
Enjoy each precious minute with your Dad.

Lori E said...

Ya right, are you sure that isn't a still?

Lori R. said...

How interesting and how many trees does he do this with? Did you get to taste the gold liquid? Sounds to me like quite the tradition...

Vivienne @ the V Spot said...

I will not be frightened by the price and reach for the Aunt Jemima fake stuff ever again. Wow.

Kristin - The Goat said...

Excellent description - I grew up in Michigan as you should surely know by now because I mention it enough - so I know all about Maple Syrup production. I dont' think a school year went by where we didn't take a field trip to a local syrup farm. It's fascinating every time though, just fascinating.

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

HA! I love your dad's sense of humor. :-)

Great post! There's NOTHING like fresh maple syrup. I always pick up from the little "word of mouth" home producers upstate New York. YUM!