It seems like it has been a crazy day today, Hubby and I got up early to hit the local Kmart, they have a sale on Kenmore microwaves (ours died) the store model looked great ,height and width will fit the microwave shelf, got it home and its too deep. So back to the store we go and end up buying a smaller unit for the same price, but it fits. My Mom is part of our household and she uses the microwave which is good, as I sometimes find that she has left the stove on when heating up water for coffee or tea. Went to my favorite produce market for a couple things I needed for Easter dinner and got a huge box of mixed oranges and tangerines, there are a few soft ones so we will use them first. The new Excalibur will be put to use this week, drying some and also drying the zest of the oranges. Will probably need to share some with our son they have 5 kids and are all off next week for spring break so they sure can go through the food fast when all are home all day. While Mom and I were off to the produce market we left my husband home cooking down the sap from the maples. I feel bad as it is so cold outside today, and expecting to get 3-5 inches of snow this evening and more Sat. We are crossing our fingers that we end up with a pint at least.
How are you cooking down your sap? I know there's the outdoor fire thing...but I'm thinking (when we get to that point) that I want to use steamer trays inside...I can set the temp where it needs to be, and be able to keep an eye on it while doing other things.
Our maple syrup making days are over at least for this year. We ended up with approx. 1 gallon of maple syrup and it is so tasty. I thought I would share how we made the syrup. Rich my husband tapped the maple trees, a 1/2 inch hole is drilled about 2 inches into the tree where a tap is inserted, we had purchased some sap bags and holders that hook onto the tap and watched the sap drip drop by drop into the bags. We only had 2 maple trees to tap and they were large enough to put 2 bags on each tree, once or twice a day we would go out and empty the bags into gallon glass jars to keep until we had 4-6 gallons, and then we started to cook (boil) it down. I have a 2 burner propane cook stove that I use for canning in the summer, so we set it up in the garage near the door and with my old heavy pressure canner pan we were able to put about 2 1/2 gallons in at a time and when it cooked down to about half that amount we would add more sap, after about 5-6 hours of cooking there was a couple inches left in the pan and its starts to foam up that the time to really watch it as it is almost done. At this point we took the pan into the house and put it into a smaller pan put the candy therm. on the pan and watched for it to go to 219 degrees. (9 degrees above the boiling point) soon as it got to that point remove it from the stove quick and we strained it a couple times, then filled pint canning jars put on hot lids and rings and flipped them upside down for about 5 minutes then back up right and waited to hear the ping of the jars sealing, let them cool completely and are now in the fruit cellar looking oh so pretty on the shelf. Yesterday was sadly our last day to collect and cook the syrup, the maple trees are starting to bud and that a sign to stop tapping. The syrup will be bitter when tapping after they are budding. So after the last batch was finshed yesterday it was clean up the bags and taps, and all the jars we used for storing the sap while waiting to cook it down. We did write down lots of info such as the date we started and amount we got each day and any little hints that we thought might be useful next year. In all the books we have read it tells you not to do the complete cooking thing inside as there is so much steam (its a sugary steam) that it will cause the wall paper to come off the walls and everything will be sticky from the steam. So the first nice day Rich and I will be outside scrubbing down the inside of the garage door sure don't want to encourage any bugs, or rodents to move in. My Granddaughter Chelsea and I decided to pop some popcorn after the clean up and since we had about a 1/4 of a cup of maple syrup that didn't fit into the jars we were filling so tried some on the freshly popped corn we put the butter and salt on then as one person stirred the popped corn around the other drizzled the syrup on, oh my goodness it was so good, kind of like kettle corn in taste.
This was alot of work, and probably not cost efficient as we used the propane cooker but it was a good learning experiment for us, and we had fun. It also gave us a reason to get up and get outside (we still have some snow on the ground). We did take a walk out to check out our garden area and found that the rhubarb is up about a inch, so now is the time to put a little compost around them, and get looking for the rhubarb custard pie recipe and the muffin one, and can't forget about the rhubarb cake, well I guess I probably have a month yet before the baking starts but still its something to look forward to.
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."