The Sugarhouse is officially open for business. I finished everything in the nick of time for the 2020 sugaring season. Which hit like a ton of bricks a little later than the usual mid-February.
Coming up is a list of all the cool features of the Sugarhouse.
I used the opportunity to touch up the bricking of the evaporator and add another layer where the fire burns the hotest.
The sap tanks are now above the evaporator to they can gravity feed into it. No more filling it one pot at a time :). The flue goes out through the cupola so as to create a draft of hot air going up around it, steering the vapor on the right path out the building.
Not only is the sap gravity fed, it’s self regulating thanks to a float valve.
I have a legit workbench for the first time in a decade.
No stain has been applied to the inside of the siding, I didn’t want vapor interacting with chemical so the inside is 100% untreated wood.
We have a very enclosed loft for kids to play into and stay away from the burning hot evaporator. I made little windows so they can watch without going over the railing. There is also a small basket they can play with to pass things up and down (a huge hit).
Inside the loft.
The pulley system which opens the cupola’s flaps. No ladders :).
The cupola in action.
First firing! A big moment for us.
The cupola’s capacity for evacuating vapor is much higher than our evaporator’s ability to make it. We’ll be able to upgrade it without worrying about vapor accumulation.
All in all it’s been a tremendous success and really super nice.
We just acquired another cookstove. It is in excellent shape for a stove built in 1905, so much so that we couldn’t let it pass. Like we did with our Sweetheart, it’ll sit unused for a couple of years, and we’ll use that time to give it the bit of TLC it needs.
It’s quite beautiful and has many bells and whistles.
Our 2nd year making hard cider, we skipped one last year when the apple trees didn’t produce anything. Such are the whims of mother nature.
We did this one a little more “right” by transferring to a 2nd fermenter after a couple of months and by letting it age for 5 months total. It definitely helped refine the flavor and remove some of the less desirable tones.
As before we used our maple syrup to fuel the fermentation. It’s kind of a shame because the taste of maple syrup is completely lost in the process, I would love to have something mapley left. At the same time, it’s completely awesome that we are able to make hard cider with 100% local ingredients. And by local I mean right from our backyard. It may seem completely absurd to use maple syrup like this, we could sell it and buy many times its weight in refined cane sugar with the money. This isn’t what we’re after though, closing cycles as locally as possible is the end game, not making money. And so using maple syrup is the most sensical and harmonious thing we can do.
I commissioned labels from Robin, I would like to build up a portfolio of labels made from people I love to satisfy any future circumstances. This year we had deer go through apple trees during a ghost moon, and we had a press day heavy on yellow jackets.
Overall it’s really super nice that all these projects are well established these days. We are so much more relaxed going through the motions with experience under our belt. It’s still a lot of work, but at least we’re no longer worried we’re going to majorly fuck something up and ruin everything.
We’ll be sugaring soon, and we’ll have cider to drink while we boil the maple syrup we’ll use the make the cider. It’s the circle of life or something.