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by Mike Pembry

Our maple syrup operation is small. We just make enough for family and friends and usually end up with about three to four gallons. For this reason we haven't invested in any fancy equipment -a refrigerator door with the insulation removed and the handle hole welded over makes the boiling pan and a few pieces of angle iron welded together to make a supporting rack over the fire. It also serves for boiling corn in the summer.

The problem with this type of equipment with no sides or chimney is that you often get little bits of ash in the syrup. I let the almost-syrup stand for a while to settle out so that I can take of the clear top part for the final boil in the house. But I can never get myself to discard the cloudy material at the bottom. I usually end up bottling it for when we run out of the good stuff or setting it out by the bee hives in case they can use it as a sugar source--but not any more. ~

While staying at one of the Ontario Farm Vacation bed and breakfast farms while I was attending a seminar near Woodstock, I got a wonderful tip from my hosts. Add some milk to the syrup while it's boiling and scoop off the scum. I did this with a saucepan full of the cloudiest material and a cup of milk. I then poured it through a cloth. The result was amazing. The filtered syrup was as clear as a bell and all the grime clung together and stayed in the cloth. I think it's the protein in the milk that coats the minute pieces of carbon so that they stick together and then, as the protein hardens with the heat, it congeals into an easy-to-remove material.

Copyright 1993 Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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