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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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Reruns - Sugar Shack


It's Sunday again, and you know what THAT means!?! It's time for Sunday Favorites!!!

Sunday Favorites are RERUNS, not current posts - - - if you want to participate, just repost something you previously posted "back in the day."

Thanks so much to Chari over at Happy to Design for hosting this meme, "Sunday Favorites." You may click on the link to find the rules and see more favorite posts.

As spring is finally arriving on the frozen trundra, we are all getting a little "sappy." In honor of that, I'm rerunning this sweet post.

Sugar Shack in the Sugar Bush
(First posted on July 2, 2009)

My cousin Doug, who also lives in central Wisconsin, 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-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!!!



From the Kitchen said...

I'd sure like to know Doug! We love real (some restaurants don't know the difference it seems) maple syrup and never complain about the price. Doug's looks dark and tasty! I had no idea how much sap it took to produce.


Unknown said...

I really enjoyed that, Keetha!
Thanks for the tour. I sure do hope your cousin gave you a pint after reading your nice post!

Linda @ A La Carte said...

I bet that is the best syrup in the world!!

Sunny Simple Life said...

Oh yum! I have always been fascinated with the process as it is not done around here anywhere. I live in California. Bummer he didn't give you one of his jars.


Oh, wow...I love real maple cyrup! Only when I travel I can get real maple and bring it home, I'm just to far away. Thanks for sharing with us the tour at your cousin Doug and the process. Oh...I'm also just following you. Come over for a visit and see my latest posts, you're so welcome!

lvroftiques said...

Thanks for the lesson Keetha! I will only eat real maple syrup. It's expensive stuff for sure but so worth it! I didn't know that it took 200 gals of sap to make 6 gals of syrup! Sheesh that IS a ton of hard work! Anyhoo I have a new appreciation for my syrup! And yep I too wish I knew your cousin *winks* I'd even help him for a little taste of that heaven! Vanna

Anonymous said...

That was a neat post and i learned quite a bit from it. I bet it is so good.

Life As I Know It said...

Mmmmmm....not much better than fresh maple syrup :)

Kristin - The Goat said...

I am still just in awe that someone figured out that sap ran through Maple trees and that boiling it down turned it into a thick syrup.

Paulette said...

I do buy real maple syrup and then treat it like gold and use it only in recipes. Very interesting, and thanks for taking us on a tour of your cousin's facilities. I have ancestors that did the same but were long gone before I came along, but my great-aunt told us about what she remembered. So how long does the process of boiling 200 gallons into 6 gallons of syrup take?

Beth said...

This is a great post! The maple syrup looks excellent and it was fun seeing the process. Thanks for sharing!
Blessings, Beth

Chari at Happy To Design said...

Hi Keetha...

Wow...I find the entire process of making maple syrup sooo interesting! Can you just imagine the smell while it's on the fire? Mmmm!!! Your post was so interesting, my friend! I have often wondered about all the "how to's" of collecting and making the syrup! I learned so much! Thank you! Your Uncle Doug has quite the set up at his place. I would love to follow him around while he's collecting and making the syrup! I it sweet when it comes right out of the tree or does it require the cooking process to sweeten it? Just curious! I also have to agree with your Uncle about warming up in front of a wood stove. I don't know what I would do without ours...I love it! We have it going all winter long and our central heat hardly ever kicks on! Sure does help on the gas bill! Hehe!

Well dear friend, thank you so much for sharing this informative post with us for the Sunday Favorites repost party this week! I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Love ya,

Natasha in Oz said...

I love Maple syrup and I only ever buy the real thing from Canada. It costs a fortune over here in Australia but it is SO worth it! Now I know how much work goes into it I will definitely keep buying the good stuff!

Best wishes,