Mountain Maple Syrup

At the end of the winter season as the days get longer and the temps get a tad bit warmer, the sap in the maples begins to run.  One of my most fond childhood memories was walking the woods to check maple sap buckets with my Grandpa Lyke.  He would sneak a little cup for me and let me drink the sap and with a twinkle in his eye, remind me not to tell Grandma. 

Our First Maple Syrup Bucket

I didn't understand how valuable that clear sap was until now.  Our community in Woodland Hills, Utah is experimenting with tapping the Bigtooth Maples on our mountain to make maple syrup.  A few families have been doing it the past couple of years, and we had the pleasure of watching their operation.  So, Mike and I decided to try making some from the trees in our yard.  

Grandpa and Grandma Lyke Hugging a Very Old Maple in the Woods

Our first step was to identify the Maples on our 1 acre property.  We found four and a few little ones trying to grow in the Scrub Oak Stands.  The two biggest are two of the prettiest in our back yard, near the chicken coops.  When we moved here 13 years ago, they were just tiny things, but every year they get a little taller and their leaves turn flaming red.   I have photographed them every year in the fall and hope someday to replicate my grandparent's picture with my sweetheart. 

The Sugar Shack

A few years ago we visited the Sugar Shack down in the woods on the farm that my cousin and her family live on and got to see all the old Maple syrup making equipment as well as the new processes they began using to harvest the sap from the many, many trees in the NY woods around the farm.  I loved the patina on the old metal buckets and remember watching the sap drip out of the metal taps.  I know that the tubes and modern systems are way more efficient than the old ways, but for our little experiment and four trees, I ordered taps and buckets that looked like the old ones from the farm.   

The Tallest Bigtooth Maple Tree in our Yard

We have had a long and cold winter, so it took a little work to get out to the trees, but Mike was as excited as me to try making some syrup the old way.  Four taps, four buckets and four trees.  It has been a few weeks, and we have collected about five gallons of sap.  It's not much, but it is enough to start.

Maple Sap Boiling on the Stove

After filtering the sap to get out any "things", we got a huge pot and began the boiling process.  My Grandma sent me pictures years ago of the Maple burning party they had a long time ago.  I'll have to find them and share them with you.  Their were a lot of family around a big metal vat with wood fire burning under it.  Lots of kids and family with smiles.  

As we watched the sap boil on my stove, it made the air in our home smell sweet, and it brought all the memories back from my childhood.  Grandpa at the stove frying Fritters to dip in the dark syrup.  All of us littles would stuff our cheeks full of the fluffy pasties soaked in syrup and laugh and smile along with the old ones.  I love those memories of all of us together in that kitchen.  

Our First Bottle of Maple Syrup

Today, we bottled our first little bottle of Maple Syrup from our home on the mountain.  It took four gallons to get two of these bottles.  It was so sweet and good.  I licked the spoon, not daring to take a whole spoonful all to myself.  I'll save it for a special day when our grandbabies and children come home and we make Grandpa's Fritters (recipe in blog archive) for them all to enjoy together.  

If you follow me on Instagram, I will make a highlight bubble for the syrup making stuff and where we got our things.  I'll post the old pics as I find them, and the new ones of our family too.  I'm so happy for the four little trees on our property and the sweet fun we've had doing something new together.  It's was for sure a moment to celebrate!

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