23 March 2016
click on pictures to see enlarged views
I took the above picture this morning. Marlene and I are in our sugar shack, boiling maple sap into syrup. Our sugar shack is actually something like a wood shed, right next to our house. It has a real campy atmosphere to it. Here's a picture of our evaporator in the shed...
We've used the same stainless steel evaporator pan for a lot of years. My friend, Steve Lonsky made it using some stainless steel pieces I salvaged out of a factory back when I was a contractor.
The firebox is an old one that was given to us a couple years ago. I have it lined with firebrick. It's a step up from the 55-gallon metal drum that we used to use for a firebox.
I have thought about getting a real evaporator to make maple syrup (like This One). But I'm sure we will never get one. It's too high class for us. Here's a picture looking at the sugar shack from outside...
And here (below) is a view looking down on the operation. In the right side of the picture you can see a plastic pail with some sheer curtain material spring-clamped over the top. That's my sap bucket this year. I have used a 55-gallon plastic drum in years past to hold sap. But this year I'm just storing our sap in pails, then pouring them into the pail in the picture, from which the sap trickles slowly into the pan.
That pail is actually a Whizbang Bucket Irrigation Pail.
In this next picture you can see the end of the hose, with a brass trickle (of my own design)...
Our first boil netted 6+ quarts of syrup. The picture below shows five of them. This morning we made 2+ quarts. And as I write this, we are boiling another batch. This will be a less productive year for maple syrup than some other years. The reason being, we got a late start, and the sap flow hasn't been all that good.
We've made 5 to 7 gallons of syrup in past years, and one year we made 13 gallons. We use four or five gallons a year.
When we had kids at home, boiling maple sap was a family affair. These days it's just Marlene and me.