Sugarbush: Making Maple

I keep looking at how people did things when there weren’t so many things.  This year I tried to start working towards a more hand-made maple sugarbush, though the metal shop and plastic bucket still played a prominent role.  Gotta start somewheres.

I made a 34″x48″ stainless steel boiling pan.  We tapped 180 trees on the land of Creaking Tree Farm, ending up with an unknown quantity of syrup, somewhere in the 25-30 gallon range, and 11 gallons of granulated maple sugar.  I made some birchwood stirring paddles for finishing syrup and making sugar, an aspen trough for granulating maple sugar, an etched birch bark sugar storage basket (aka “mukuk,” stitched with spruce root – still need to make the lid), and an etched birch bark syrup canning funnel.

I have been collecting photos of old native sugaring tools, and hope to continue developing this project next year.

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Bending up a 20 gauge stainless steel pan.

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Sap on its way to syrup.

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Stirring paddle, granulating trough, birch bark basket (mukuk), and birch bark canning funnel.

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Emily blowing maple bubbles while boiling down syrup to make maple sugar.

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Trough with just-finished maple sugar.

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April snowstorm in the sugarbush.

1 Comment

  1. larry

    after making over 10 corn mortars by fire means, I did my first maple sugaring trough this week…no need for any tedious finish chiseling of the interior…..repeatedly fire with weed torch and scrape with the curve edge of a huge old kitchen spoon….. repeat repeat…..surprisingly in about and hour (certainly less than 2hrs)you will have a glass smooth interior even though beginning with chainsaw adz and hatchet marks to begin fire finishing…..toward final, selectively finish smooth only the high spots by not always scraping the surrounding burn zone….scrape bare only the high spots only and reburn for 30 secs….scrape the high spot only and reburn….repeat repeat

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