One late morning recently, writing from a coffee shop in the village of Morrisville, Sugarhouse Meal Angel and today’s guest blogger Nina Church reminisced:
Sugaring season is a vital gush after long, frozen winter. My whole body senses the opening of the maple veins and the sap rising.
When our boys were little we tapped the five maples on our little street in Morrisville. One sunny afternoon after school and work we drilled in the taps. The boys ran from tree to tree to put their tongues to the taps, taste the sap, and then hang the buckets.
We collected sap and stored it in a large canning pot on our cold front porch, until it was full. We have a Fisher Mama Bear wood stove in the kitchen. We’d crank that up in the early afternoon to start warming the sap. We had no idea what we were doing and none of the equipment or technology. We knew we needed to boil the sap. Around 6 p.m. the sap was hot enough to transfer to the cooking stove. We used a 3” deep roasting pan that stretched across two burners. The pan was rough and bumpy. My mother used to make roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for Sunday dinner. To clean it she’d throw it out on the gravel driveway and let the dogs scour it. Probably it got run over a few times, but it was still serviceable.
We boiled and boiled and poured more and more sap into the pan with both burners going full blast. We worried the wallpaper might peel off the wall, so we flung open all the doors and windows downstairs and loaded more wood into the wood stove to let the steam billow forth.
The sap started to thicken and we were so amazed we kept pouring more in hoping we’d know when to stop. I went to bed at midnight. Allen finished it off by about 2 a.m. The next day we had to go to work so the pancakes would have to wait ‘til the weekend. What a celebration we had eating our own homemade syrup! All that sap might have made a pint of syrup, and it was ours— the elixir of spring.
Recipe recommendation: google Maple Whiskey (or Bourbon) pudding cakes. There are a lot of recipes. I’ve used the Milk Street one https://www.177milkstreet.com/recipes/maple-whiskey-pudding-cakes and it is over the top extravagant, gooey, and sweet. I cut back on the sugar but not the maple syrup. Use it for ultra special occasions, like when the dogs come home without porcupine quills or you want to celebrate your sweetie.