Jan 11, 2009

Sweet syrupy success

It takes 5 hours to boil our biggest red stock pot (8 litres, 32 cups) full of maple sap down to half a small bottle (1/4 litre, 1 cup) of syrup. But boy does it taste good.

The psychologist in me would put it down to Effort Justification - the more effort/energy/money/time you put into something, the more you HAVE TO like it to justify it, otherwise you end up with too much cognitive dissonance. That's why we stay on hold for so long - to hang up after 20 minutes would cause us too much grief over wasted time. That's why we like $100 shirts better than $20 shirts, stay in bad relationships too long, and don't walk out in the middle of Adam Sandler movies.

The economist in me snickers that, in addition to the $50 outlay on equipment and a buck or two in electricity to heat an element for 4 hours, I spent 5 hours purchasing, tapping, and collecting the sap, and another hour of active labour over the last 4 hours of boiling (it doesn't need stirring, thankfully). All to get half a bottle of syrup - about $5 in a store. So if I pay myself 75 cents/hour and spread out the capital costs over 4 years, I broke even tonight.

But the connoisseur in me is lamenting that we don't (yet) have a sheep to give us high-fat milk to make ice cream so we could pour this hot liquid gold over it right now. It has a rich musky flavour that's much stronger than the normal Eastern maple syrup, albeit less sweet.

The McGivor in me loves the homemade apparatus we contrived to slowly drip the sap into the boiling pot. All we had to do is refill the tin can with the small hole in it every 10 minutes or so.

And the homesteader in me is enthralled with the whole darn thang, and is learning not to count hours let alone try to assign monetary values to them. I enjoyed discussing my equipment purchase with the folk down at Buckerfields Farm Store, loved tromping outside in the snow with the boys to tap and collect, and was fascinated by the boiling down process this evening.

Yet another detached industrialized product from my youth has magically come to life and invited me into her web, opened her mysteries to me, made me her sweet sappy lover. Every new learning connects us more to our sources.


  1. I am amazed that your sap is running in January! Here in Chicagoland it is decidedly still frozen...


  2. Beside myself with jealousy!!

    Let us know when you're ready to sell a bottle!!


  3. That is very very cool!! I envy the connection to nature I see in that activity.