Maple Syrup Making Weather
Late February and early March can be fickle months in Northeast Ohio, months that will take you on a temperature roller coaster.
Seventy degree sunny days when our Amish neighbors have the horses out doing clean up work
will be followed by a week of freezing temperatures and snow storms.
You never know what you're going to get.
For us, this time of year is sugaring season; the time to make maple syrup.
Sugaring season is short, usually between two and four weeks for optimal sap production.
We tap just a few trees and do the boiling outside over an open fire.
It's a long, slow process to boil down 50 or so gallons of sap.
After we do a majority of the boiling off of water from the sap, we finish the job indoors. Finishing means more boiling. It takes several hours to get the almost-maple-syrup to 218 degrees. Once it hits that temperature, it's time to filter out "sugar sand" through a cloth filter and then bottle the syrup.
All-in-all, it's not a hard process, just laborious. There is a lot of hurry-up-and-wait time. But is it ever worth it. And there are so many ways to enjoy it.
The Ohio Maple Producers Association is an excellent resource if you're interested in seeing how the whole process is done or are looking for ways to use maple syrup. I'd suggest pouring it over ice cream. But then again, I'd suggest pouring just about anything over ice cream!
Once you have the real stuff, you'll never again eat the fake stuff the grocery stores sell. Look closely at the labels. Usual, they are listed as "original syrup". Not maple syrup because there isn't any maple syrup in 'em.
Flavoring, yes. Syrup, no.
Real maple syrup has one ingredient and one ingredient only. And that is Maple Syrup.
And it is worth every penny.