The syrup season started abruptly this year. After the sixth coldest February on record in Wisconsin, the second week in March warmed up with a couple of days approaching 60, and the sap started to rise in the maples, particularly in our best trees. Since the weather has returned to normal -- lows in the 20s and highs near 40, perfect syrup weather -- the other maples around our lot have started to produce as well.
I tapped nine trees this year, which should yield about two gallons of syrup, unless I get weary of all the boiling. The sugar to water content is unusually low this year, around 1 to 50, which means more boiling to concentrate the sap. An exceptional year is one to 20-30 sugar to water ratio. I've heard some commercial producers around the area are reporting sugar contents as low as 1 to 100. The syrup I've made so far this year is extremely dark and full of flavor. My syrup seems to taste and look different every year.
I gave up sugaring a few years back and bought syrup from friends. Last year, after seeing this Kitchen Vignette (http://kitchenvignettes.blogspot.com/2012/04/maple-syrup-pie.html) video on PBS, I was motivated to restart my backyard sugar operation. I have yet to make the maple pie. Clouk, clouk, clouk.