We also did a lot with our latest hobby — making maple syrup! We have a large maple in the backyard, somewhere between 50-100 years old. I've been on a foraging kick since last fall, so Patrick got me some taps for Christmas. With the cold sticking around, we've been able to tap quite late in the season, though I think we are reaching the end.
This is how the sap looks when it comes from the tree:
It's quite thin, but does have a little bit of sweetness to it. We get about a gallon a day, and would likely get more if we were more attentive to it.
We boil it down on the outside grill until it's quite reduced:
Then, we bring it tint the kitchen for the final reduction, which is where it gets a nice carmel-y color (except when we get to talking and burn the batch, but that's only happened once):
It takes a long time to make a fairly small amount of syrup, but it's not labor intensive, you can basically just have it going while you are doing something else. And the taste is amazing! Patrick had some in a cocktail the other night and thought he had died and gone to heaven...