I have been getting worried. I started this project about a month ago and thought I would see results much sooner than I have. We had a major warming spell with nights that were not cold enough to make the sap really run. But alas, the last couple days have been perfect for the maple sap to start running, sunny warm days and nights below freezing. From my three main trees, we collected close to four gallons. Not a lot compared to big shot maple sugarers, but enough for me to get started. I collected up kindling, and scrap wood and got a good fire going in the Home-made DIY syrup evaporator. I then poured the sap into the two hotel pans. They came up to a rolling boil in under a half hour. I was pretty impressed by that. Most of the wood that was used today was random pieces of pine lumber, which burns very hot. Total boiling time on the evaporator was probably a little over two hours.
When the syrup is finished it is time to filter. My first attempt used a mason jar with a thick cloth towel acting as the filter. I ladled in syrup and it did work, but there was not enough filter surface area to be effective and timely. At this point I got out a stock pot, found another thick cloth towel, and used that for filtering. This worked out much better. Most of the syrup was poured into the filter in one shot and proceeded through with no problems. Not until the very end did I have to help it along. Using a normal soup spoon, I gently moved the syrup and debris around until it was all filtered.
We ended up collecting just shy of two quarts of syrup. As it cooled I realized the syrup could have been cooked down a little more. I hope to collect even more sap this week and cook again next weekend. Assuming that happens, this first batch of syrup will be added to the final stove top boiling next weekend and brought down to the proper consistency. This project has been fun to do and to document. There are always things and techniques to be improved on and new ideas to try. Lets keep learning together! Cheers!