Monday, March 7, 2016

Maple Tapping and Candy Making

Warming days and freezing nights mean it's time to tap some maple trees for
sap! We only tap 2-3 trees, since we generally don't boil our sap to syrup, we just drink it as sap. There are trace minerals and sugars in fresh sap, and it can be very refreshing straight from the tree. We don't have any facilities to boil our sap into syrup, which causes a lot of steam and consequently makes a lot of condensation in our tiny kitchen. The most we have done in the past beyond drinking raw sap is reducing the sap slightly with some ground chaga to make a naturally sweetened decoction.

Robert decided to try making some chaga-infused candy with a small amount of sap, only about 4 gallons total, resulting in a few products: an accidental chaga-maple caramel, a chaga-maple hard candy, and chaga-maple candy. The caramel came about because he didn't boil it and reduce it long enough, only to about 240º F. While still warm, it is a gooey, sweet, and dark caramel sauce, good for ice cream or even by the spoonful if I need something sweet. When it cools to room temperature, the sauce thicken up a lot, so I can heat it to make it pour-able again.

For the hard candy, he boiled the decoction longer, until it reached soft crack stage, about 258º F-260º F. Then he poured some of the extremely hot sugar into some candy molds and let it cool, before we wrapped the chaga-maple candies in waxed paper for storage.

For the chaga-maple candy, he took a wooden spoon and whipped up the remaining hot sugar until it became creamy, and poured into a greased glass pan. Once it cooled, he chopped it up into pieces that melt slowly in your mouth.