Tuesday, March 8, 2011

1st Real Sap Flow and Harvest!

Val's Wintery Afternoon Drip by:Val Schmitt

I just liked the above photo when I saw it. Val, from my spinning group took it. It's obviously not a maple tree but it captured the look and feel of collecting tree sap today. Driving to work this morning and home again this afternoon was just beautiful. Glass. That's what all the trees looked like. And the way the sun hit them from a low angle in the sky just made them and their colors all the more mesmerizing to look at.

When I got home I quickly changed into my jeans and grabbed the sap buckets. I knew today would be a good day for sap! Our first this year. The dogs and I went out and crunched and slid the whole way out back. Once the snowshoes were on I was more steady on my feet. They have claws on the bottom. Good thing because over the deep snow was a thick layer of solid ice. So the walking was easy. I never feel through once. Heaven! I got about 10 gallons of sap today but had to dump half of it. I really need to look into this discolored sap thing that's going on this year. Although not as many trees had it today as the other day. The other day when we collected we had to dump every single pail because of the discolored sap. Today was just a few. The big tree way out back was overflowing with sap but it was all a brownish yellow so it all got dumped. Ouch! Most of the pails had big chunks of ice in them too. The sap hadn't thawed all the way through from the freezing temperatures last night. Here's a picture of one pail's yellowish frozen sap. Heartbreaking.
That just doesn't look right. The sap should be clear; like clean water. I've read that sap can turn from clear to yellowish later in the season when the trees begin to bud, indicating the end of the season. I also read that it can mean the sap is spoiled and temperature changes can play a part. So even though I haven't found out exactly what is causing this off color my gut tells me it's not good. So until I read or hear otherwise I will continue to dump such sap. The time, energy, and expense of collecting and boiling sap for syrup doesn't justify keeping anything less than top quality sap.

Here's a pail today with some ice melting and dripping off the lid. It really was pretty outside today. Another reason I love maple syrup making. It's just a great way to get outdoors during the weeks of late winter and early spring.

If you'd like to read some real good science on sap go to this great biology of sap flow website: http://employees.csbsju.edu/ssaupe/biol327/lab/maple/maple-sap.htm

Happy collecting and boiling!


pbr said...

I tried to go cheap and use plastic buckets. THis year I redrilled a hole in the side so I could use the plastic lids. Well, that didn't work too well. The lids cracked. I want to get metal buckets with lids. the real sap buckets. Where do you suggest to get them fast and cheapest?

Spinning, Gardening, and Maple Syrup Making said...

Hi Pam, That is a bummer! I used plastic gallon milk jugs the first year we did this. Yeah, that only lasted one year! Well it's probably a good thing you're moving away from plastic. Food in plastic just isn't a good thing. I get my pails from Suga Country Products in Vassalboro. They are used and from Canada and a great price. Their website is:http://www.sugacountryproducts.com/
It's a nice ride out there and they are nice people. Good luck!! And do continue to keep us posted. Should be a good sap run this weekend.

pbr said...

Brother to the rescue. He sapped in high school (70's) and still has the buckets and lids. He is coming tomorrow!!!! YippEEE

Spinning, Gardening, and Maple Syrup Making said...

Very cool!!! I suspect we will get a great sap flow just as your brother and you tap your trees! Perfect timing. Let us know how it goes Pam.

pbr said...

My sap isn't pure water colorless, but tinted. Still tastes okay.

Spinning, Gardening, and Maple Syrup Making said...

Hummm...I've dealt with that too. Some folks use the tinted sap some don't. I don't. But if it tastes OK to you, go for it. Let me know how it tastes as syrup. I wonder if degree of "tintedness" is something to consider too. Maybe just a slight tint is different than a deep tint?