Looking outside, into the wintery landscape, filled to the brim with snow and cold, it’s easy to slip into daydreams about springtime. These days, I oftentimes find myself scanning Pinterest for garden designs, and lost in thought over tiny chicks beginning their lives under their fluffy mommas. Most of all, I’m looking forward to that very first spring time activity, tapping the maple trees.
It’s one of the only activities around our homestead that can be done when there’s still snow on the ground and a hard nip to the air. It happens before any sprouts push forth from the soil, or creatures emerge from their hibernation. That glorious sap starts flowing beneath the bark, and it’s official: spring is right around the corner.
We have two big maple trees on our property, and yes we tap them, right here in the middle of the city. Drilling holes into your trees and collecting buckets of tree blood tends to draw strange looks from the neighbors, but we don’t mind at all. The first taste of that oh-so-sweet syrup is well worth being labeled the freaks of the neighborhood forever more.
After we’ve collected enough sap, we boil it down on a turkey fryer set up on the back patio, checking on it every few hours and stirring it with a giant wooden spoon…just like a couple of 17th century witches watching over their brew.
Now… standing outside in the frigid cold and glancing into a giant cauldron every once in awhile is hard work. We reward and comfort ourselves with plenty of tiny glasses of spiced rum. To be honest, this is one of my favorite parts of maple syrup season.
When the concoction is finished, it’s thick and sweet, and a deep, beautiful mahogany. We try to resist the temptation to eat every last bit of it with a spoon. Okay, sometimes we give in to that temptation, but we make sure to reserve some for the rest of the year. Our two trees produce enough syrup for us to enjoy all year long, with a little extra to spoil our eager friends and family.
Just in case you’re not a big breakfast fan, please know that maple syrup is good for more than just pancakes. We use it for practically everything around here, including:
- sweetening tea
- marinating, glazing and braising meat
- sweetening oatmeal
- in salad dressing
- to flavor cocktails
- as a partial replacement of sugar in baked goods
- flavoring veggies like carrots, brussels sprouts, or asparagus
- making maple ice cream treats
To read the full account of our maple syrup adventure last year, check out this post:
After reading all about our maple tapping ventures, I know that you’re just dying for springtime to get here so you too can sip on tree nectar and concoct witches brew in your backyard! If we can do it here in the middle of the city, you can do it too!
And… did you know that maples aren’t the only type of tree you can tap? Our friends have successfully tapped birch and black walnut trees as well!