Saturday, March 12, 2011

Germantown Farm Maple Sugaring

On March 5th, Carol planned a delicious day in the woods for us.  We met at the Germantown Farm in upstate New York.  About a 1/2 mile off the road, down by a stream Chris and Kaya had a maple shack set up.  Under the lean-to was a brick fire pit with large metal pans steaming above it.
There were light blue plastic tubes (lines) running down from the maple trees to large barrels that collected the sugar.  The sugar came in clear, which a few of us were surprised to see.  We imagined it brown like the delicious syrup we normally see.  The metal pans were split into two sections.  The first section is for the cold maple syrup to be slowly added into the mix.  This mixture of is kept at a constant temperature (around boiling point- 100 degrees Celsius).  The depth of the liquid also needed to be kept at 1.5-2 inches.  As the water evaporated out more syrup was added to maintain this depth.  The second section also had to be maintained at 1.5-2 inches.  When it got low they used a scooper to add syrup from the first bin into the second bin.  This was also maintained at a constant temperature.  There was much steam coming off the boiling liquid.  My favorite part was dipping our tea cups into the second bin and adding a tea bag.  It was the sweetest, most delicious tea and maple sugar mixture.  The second bin was darker and sweet due to the loss of water.
There were a few tasks we helped with while there.  A bunch of us went to check on the lines.  Carol and Michael fixed a line together that was twisted.  Carol had been up there a few weeks before to insert the lines, so she was like a pro at this point.
There was also lots of wood to chop.  Rebekah and I both attempted it.  However, we weren't that good at it.  Christopher chopped quite a bit of wood early on.  Michael fell into a zen-like mode of chopping wood later in the day.  It was amazing to see his skill and ease grow over such a short time.
We spent many hours there.  The farm folk were kind and generous.  They shared there food which consisted of many canned goodies- kimchee, mustard, etc.  The soup was a pheasant and vegetables with a magical combination of soothing spices.  They have created a warm and thoughtful community there.  It really was an honor to be a part of their lives for a short time.  They have dedication to conscious-living and community education.
Thank you Carol for planning this wonderful day in the woods.  We all needed the fresh air and beautiful surroundings in good company.
Pheasants in a pile: eery beauty