Sunday, March 21, 2010

Liquid Gold

One of my husband's elder brothers owns several hundred acres of bush west of the city. Three of the brothers, my husband included, use this property communally; they go out there and do man things together, bonding over the smell of woodsmoke, man-sweat, and DEET.

That property gives us many things. The three, hunters all, go up in November to hunt deer, so our freezer is invariably full of venison. I'm iffy on the idea of eating Bambi, but free meat is free meat, so I've found recipes that let me (and my step-daughters) pretend that Bambi is actually Bessie.

In an effort to attract more deer to the property, the brother who owns it plants turnips, beets and other deer favourites. Sometimes in the fall, these veggies find their way into our house and grace our table, sometimes even beside a deer, er, cow, that they were intended to lure.

My favourite gift of that land comes in this time of year: maple syrup. In pictures:

The sap was flowing so quickly that after the tree was drilled, its side was soon soaked.

A fantastic shot by my husband, capturing a single sap droplet falling. I confess to drinking straight from the bucket... the sap is cold and refreshing, and only very slightly sweet.

After only two hours, there was a good 2" of sap collected.

There's a collection of older metal pails as well as the newer plastic ones. All in all, they have about 80 trees tapped; not enough for commercial purposes but enough to keep most of the family in syrup for the entire year.

The trees aren't on lines, so collection is manual. The snow was still deep so it was good wet fun slogging up to the buckets and back.

The wood-fired boiler, hard at work. Man, is it hot in that hut.

Knitting while waiting for the day's boil to complete...

Enjoying an unseasonably warm winter day and a campfire.

Another awesome shot by my husband.

The finished product... many liters of sap later. It is sooo good!

Ooops! Boiled too far... a tasty mistake.


Anonymous said...

Well aren't you all the self-sufficient, living off the land bunch. How cool to tap your own sap and make your own maple syrup. And really, as much as I'm opposed in general to the consumption of animals, I would much rather it were animals that were hunted for consumption than farmed

kate said...

Sounds like the day was a little slice of heaven, with liquid sunshine for dessert! Yummm....

Arzu said...

Whenever I was a kid, I would always get maple syrup candy at the Farmer's Market. I've never been out to a sugar bush before, but I absolutely loved your pictures (especially the shots by your husband - you should feature his photographic talents more!). Thanks for sharing this beautiful day with us :)

Anonymous said...

I'm amused by Arzu's comment, especially the "whenever I was a kid" beginning. I used to have a neighbour who began all her stories with "whenever" like that I had a sudden flash back to funny old Ella.

Susan said...

That is too funny! Arzu, I didn't even realize the clever way you wrote that until XUP pointed it out. I love that sentence... it says so much about you. It doesn't rule out the possibility of you being a kid again when the fancy strikes you...

velda said...

Yum, nothing like french toast and real maple syrup! great photos :)

kathryn said...

Really interesting post and great pictures. I never knew how maple syrup was collected and made, so thank you. Here in Australia maple syrup is very expensive, so it's a rare treat, rather than something I'd always have in the house. But I do love the stuff.

And you're over-boiled mistake looks pretty delicious too!