Spring is busy. I have bee hives to seal, baby chicks to care for, 8 bajillion seedlings looking for a reason to die, tomatoes needing a transplant, kids wet, muddy and cold, a dog who wants to go for a walk, a coop that needs mucking out, cats trying to eat the robin, plus every normal chore to keep this place running. Standing over a stove in a state of constant paranoia does not work for me.
Here's what I'm doing, I don't know how it will work for you, it's working for us, that's all I can say.
- we collected sap for a day and had about a gallon--make sure your collection jars is very clean and rinsed out too--no soap residue in the syrup please!
- I strained it through a sieve and then my jelly bag
- I set it to boiling in the Le Creuset, any heavy pot will do
- plug in the crock pot and heat it up while waiting for the syrup to boil--don't leave your crock pot to heat empty for too long, it might crack
- once it boiled for about 5 minutes I transferred it to the heated crock pot
- popped the lid on it and brought it to it's heights heat
- once it was thoroughly heated I turned the lid sideways to vent the steam out
- I left it cook about 12-15 hours checking occasionally to make sure it wasn't thick yet
- once it turned thick and a light amber I turned off the pot and poured the syrup, about a 1/2 cup into a half pint jar and popped it in the fridge
- some articles I read suggested yet another strain at this point, I didn't the first time I made this but I think in the future I might--although I could lose a significant amount of syrup and there isn't much to lose
- I washed the crock pot, boiled more sap and started all over
Our Birch Syrup
I'm still researching long term storage. Some sites have suggested a boiling water bath in small jars for long term storability. I think with the initial boiling of the sap and then boiled in sterilized jars any fears of contamination would be mitigated for me. How about you? I'm not sure if ours will last that long. I'd love to have a gallon to put away for winter use. Along with our honey we could conceivably be off store bought sweeteners this fall. I like that!
I know this is not a conventional way to handle sap. I understand if you are skeptical, I myself am skeptical. But I also understand that I don't have time to hover, I don't have money to spend on a huge evaporator and I needed to do something with the sap. This is my answer and I'm sharing with others who may have small amounts of sap to deal with. I'd be delighted to hear from others who have fund ways to boil down sap in small amounts without driving themselves crazy.
To see out tapping procedure and more pictures of our farm in Alaska check out my post "I'd Tap That".
Peace and Love--