Processing Maple Syrup

We had a few good sap days and a few not so good sap days.  Starting out with what we thought was not much sap we surprisingly ended up with over a pint of luscious maple syrup.

We ended up using propane for the job and the sap boiled down pretty quickly.  We may have used wood if we had been a little more organized.  Since we are not going all out on tapping every maple in sight it just made sense to use the propane cooker.

Cooking down the sap.
Cooking down the sap.
Finishing off in the kitchen!
Finishing off in the kitchen!

For the final part of the boiling we moved operations to the kitchen stove.  It had been since 2010 that my father-in-law and I made a few gallons together so we wanted to be extra careful about the temperature.  It’s amazing how quickly you forget!  Too much heat and we would have rock solid candy stuck in the bottom of our canner!  Not really the desired effect.  I was Googleing all the info to make sure we were getting it right.  Nothing like spontaneous homesteading!

Straining it out.
Straining it out.

With the help of the candy thermometer, we got it just about right.  After straining it, we admired that warm amber color.  After tasting it, we wanted pancakes!  The finished product can’t be beat in my mind.  Is anyone else tapping their maples?
Thanks for joining me here at Everlongardener for the maple syrup update.  Leave a comment and we will compare notes!  Feel free to subscribe by email in sidebar!

Gardening In February

So the other day I was outside walking around the house and I noticed my poor old cold frame.  Long neglected, broken down, rotten wood, maybe hit by the plow a few times.  It was the first bit of season extension that I ever tried.  I used it to winter over parsley.  That was about the extent of it.

The old cold frame.
The old cold frame.

One year I planted some Claytonia seeds and they reseeded for years after that.  I always considered it to be my survival food, always there waiting for me.  But then came that time I let the oregano go to seed.  Guess where it decided to live?  My cold frame!  Instead of complaining about the lack of snow and how I couldn’t go snowshoeing, I decided to clean out the cold frame.  The oregano had completely taken over.  I dug each plant out but I’m afraid the seeds scattered.  It may not be the last of the oregano!

Before the clean out.
Before the clean out.

After cleaning out all of the leaves, I found one little Claytonia plant.  If you haven’t heard of Claytonia perfoliata, also called Miners Lettuce or Winter Purslane, it’s a fantastic edible to winter over in a cold frame.  Self seeding, delicious, vitamin rich.  It gets it’s common name from the days of the California Goldrush.  The leaves don’t seem to last too long so I usually pick what I want and eat them.  Cut the leaves and it grows right back.

One little Claytonia.
One little Claytonia.

When the job was finished we found rich soil full of worms.  Perhaps I will sow something in there in the coming week.

Cold frame cleanup finished!
Cold frame cleanup finished!

After checking the whole property, I decided to tackle my tiny raspberry patch.  It was obvious which canes had to go.  I grabbed my lopers and started hacking away.  After removing a whole pile of leaves and canes, things were looking pretty good.  It may be early but I top dressed the bed.  I got so fired up about the raspberries I was thinking of planting more!  This February gardening thing is great!

Aged rabbit manure for my raspberries.
Aged rabbit manure for my raspberries.

Up the road there is an ancient row of maple trees and I noticed on Sunday that they had been tapped.  I scrounged around and found our taps.  I had a bit of resistance on this project.  Oh, the drill isn’t charged.  Then it was, we don’t have any gallon jugs.  So out the old fashioned hand crank drill came and we washed the jugs that we had.  Sap poured out immediately and by the next morning, two were overflowing!  We worked out more of the details as the week went on.  At least we started collecting sap!

The old hand crank drill.
The old hand crank drill.
Tree tapping time!
Tree tapping time!

It’s been lovely outside, even if my snowshoeing goals have dissapeared.  I feel like I’ve got a great head start on the outdoor chores.  Feels like spring is here but we still have to get through March!  Thanks for reading Everlongardener!  What are you working on this week?  Leave a comment, follow me on Instagram @everlongardener, on Pinterest, subscribe via email or on Bloglovin’.