A. has been improvising his own maple sap evaporators for a few years now, with varying results. Last year's cinder block model was very efficient and fast, but it also produced a lot of smoke.
And here we have the cinder blocks and smoke. Plus half of Cubby.
This is noticeable in the resulting syrup. Not that we refused to eat it or anything, but it did have a pretty strong flavor. A. also thinks that the extreme heat that caused it to boil so fast might have even scorched it a little. So it was very dark and strong.
This year he wanted to try making a much lighter and milder syrup, so he made a different sort of evaporator. Out of an extra cast-iron woodstove he had been saving in the shed. What, you don't have an extra woodstove lying around? Of course you don't. But A. did.
It's possible A. used it just so he could say, "See? I TOLD YOU I was saving it for a good reason."
It's not nearly as fast or as capacious, but it is pretty much smoke-free. The difference in the syrup from it is astounding.
Maple yin and yang? Sure.
Obviously, the color is markedly different, but so is the flavor. The lighter syrup is very mild, with a distinct taste of vanilla. When I tasted some before it was all the way reduced, it tasted exactly like warm cream soda. Part of this is no doubt due to the fact that this was the first sap of the season, which is always lighter and milder, but I also have no doubt that part of it is A.'s new evaporator design.
I'm not really going anywhere with this. I just thought it was interesting. Perhaps you did not, but you read all the way to this point anyway, didn't you? As a reward for you perseverance, I will leave you with one of my all-time favorite photos of my children.
The enthusiastic consumers of any and all syrup, regardless of color.