Saturday, April 6, 2013

It Takes a Village, or at Least a Township
Spring is finally making an appearance; barely. The sun is shining; sometimes. The snow is melting; in some places. The ice is forming at the 'Back Forty Sugar Shack'; definitely. 
For my family, along with a number of relatives, neighbors, and friends, spring means tapping the maple trees.
This is my nephew, Eric. After working all day, he runs around like crazy in the woods, checking the buckets to see if the trees ran.
Well, ok, the trees don't run. They stand still. The sap runs.
Yup, they ran. I mean the sap ran.
You gotta have a special tank that rides in a wagon behind your tractor.
Well, my family has to have that. Others may use a four-wheeler, Gator or Rhino.
I see all kinds of pickup trucks driving past my house, and they have these white tanks on the back. Some may be going to the 'back forty', and some may be going to another neighbor who also processes the sap.
This is my brother, Curt. He's retired, so he gets to cook during the week when the others are working.
Note the winter jacket, and a sweatband. What's wrong with that picture?
The sap is in the pan on top of the fire box. They start cooking when they have at least 1200 gallons of sap.
Yup that's right. 1200 gallons. That's a whole lot of sap, and a whole lot of collecting. That's why it takes a village, or township.
When they get the fire going in the sugar shack, and the sap is cooking, it's quite a sight from outside. There's smoke,and there's steam. When the neighborhood sees that, they know what's going on, for sure.
They cook and they cook and they cook.
Finally!!! I didn't think they would ever get the sap cooked enough to turn it into syrup.
I can taste it already.
Scoop some vanilla ice cream in a bowl. Stir up those pancakes, and heat up the griddle!
Wait. What?
What do you mean, there's another step? Are you sure you're cooking syrup? Looks kinda like a still to me.
Come on Frank, my pancakes are frying. My vanilla ice cream is melting. I can't wait any longer!!!!!
Smell that pure maply goodness.
Taste the flavor that no extract can ever replicate.
It doesn't even taste like a tree.
How do I know what a tree tastes like? Don't ask. 
There are no rules of etiquette when it comes to eating Pure Maple Syrup from the Back Forty Sugar Shack. When I see all the work that goes into making it, I have the right to lick my plate or bowl after I'm finished eating.
My house, my rules.
 I don't want to waste a single drop.
Thanks to Emil, another of my brothers, who was kind enough to tramp around in the snow and snap the pictures for me. Ah, family. You gotta love 'em.
Next week, a recipe using some of that pure maple syrup.
I gotta go now. I don't want my pancakes to get cold.
Happy Saturday