After tapping the trees, it was time to set up the sugar shack. It is important to boil down your sap out of doors because the amount of steam that is produced would ruin your house if you tried to do it inside. To get the sugar shack ready, Grandpa Nutbrown got out the ladder and installed the chimney. Next, he got his tubs out of storage and set them up over the wood stove. Grandpa has built a special system to boil down his syrup that makes it very efficient. Growing up, he watched his Grandfather make syrup using a long 15 by 4 foot pan with a deep, 6 inch corrugated bottom. The corrugated bottom got the sap right down into the flame, which helped it boil down faster, but you had to really keep an eye on it and make sure there was at least a couple inches of sap over the corrugated part to keep it from burning. Grandpa invented his own system using four tubs that sit into the wood stove. The first tub has small pipes underneath it that go down into the fire, warming up the sap that Grandpa has filtering slowly in from a barrel above. From there it moves into the second tub through pipes. The second tub gets the sap really boiling, as it has bigger tubes underneath it that Grandpa silver soldered on, heating the sap to boiling. It moves to the third tub built the same way, and then into a fourth tub with a flat bottom, where the sap can be boiled down until it is just about in its final stage of syrup. The pipes connecting the tubs can be shut off with valves, so that you can really work on getting the last tub close to syrup and pour it off. If you are using a large flat pan to boil down your sap, you would have to wait until all your sap is boiled down before pouring off the syrup. It sounds complicated, and maybe it is! But it makes sense when you see it. I'll explain more about the boiling process later.
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