If you are visiting the 2008 season to see how this process is done then scroll all the way down and begin at the very bottom of this page. That's the beginning and there are lots of pictures, video clips, and written directions explaining this whole tapping, boiling, maple syrup making process. This Canning Day post is the end of the 2008 season.
Now that we are done collecting sap and making syrup it's time to put the syrup up, preserve it, so it lasts. I'll go over the steps along with the photos. Once canning is done, the last and very important step of maple time is cleaning all equipment and putting it away until next season. That will happen next weekend. So let's do some canning!
The jars below show early season syrup (on left) and moves toward late season syrup (on right). Notice the color change! Not only is the color different, but the flavor is very different. Early season syrup is lighter both in color and flavor. Lighter maple flavor and sweetness. Later syrup is darker in color and has a much deeper maple flavor and is quite a bit sweeter.
Final sap batch finishing off and canning pot getting ready to use.
These jars are divided into two batches. Lighter syrup in jars on the left will be heated to 180 degrees F in one large pot. Darker syrup from jars on right will also be heated to 180 degrees F but in another pot. This is not fool proof for keeping quality syrup separate. Next year I'm going to purchase a grader. More on that later.
Jars need to be washed in hot soapy water before they are sterilized.
This wide mouth funnel is a must! Very helpful for pouring syrup into canning jars. Lids in box on right. Need to use brand new, clean, lids each time you can.
Thermometers for keeping track of syrup temperature...want it at 180 degrees F. Supposedly if the syrup is canned when it is hotter it may form crystals along the bottom.
Canning has begun! Jars are in the big lobster pot. They will come to a boil and then boil for 15 minutes. That sterilizes them. Pots on the left are full of syrup. Slowly, on low, brought up to 180 degrees F. Tiny pot in the middle has the lids in it. They need to boil for 5 minutes
180 degrees F!
This is a nifty tong, perfect for lifting hot jars out of the hot water bath (large pot of boiling water.
Jars are sterilized, so is funnel. Now time to pour the 180 degree F syrup in the jar.
Another nifty canning tool. A magnet on a long handle. It can lift the lids out of the boiling water without burning your fingers. Putting on lid and then cap. The caps will come off before the jars are stored. They are just used to keep the lids in place while they form their seal.
Now jars lie on their side until you hear the magical "ping" sound which means the lid sealed. The jars are covered and remain on their side until the jars cool off. The jars get covered so the cooling off occurs slowly.
Once the jars are cool the lids will be removed and the jar lids will be labeled with the year and then put in cool, dark storage. This year we got 2 gallons of syrup, 8 of these quart jars.
Tomorrow is MMSA Maine Maple Monday; first one ever! MMSA, Maine Math and Science Alliance, is where I work. We'll have the traditional pancakes and maple syrup and ice cream and maple syrup. YUMMMMYYYY!
Next weekend I'll remove all pails from trees and clean and sterilize all pails and other collection and storage containers before putting them away for the year. I'll post some pics of that since it's such an important part of maple syrup making. Time to go enjoy some maple syrup.
Here's one simple recipe: Maple Butter:
8 TBSP real butter; room temperature
4 TBSP maple syrup
Whip the above ingredients using a mixer until smooth and well mixed. Serve over anything that would taste good with a maple and butter taste. Morning toast, waffles, hot pop-overs, squash..... lots of food would taste good with this.
NOTE: I think 4 TBSP of maple syrup is too sweet. I use 3, so play with the ratio until you get what you like.