.

.
Borrego Springs, CA

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sugar cane boil!

Having grown up in the north in Chicago, I had no idea what a sugar cane boil was.  I spent time living in Upstate New York, so I knew about making maple syrup, and I wondered if this was something similar.  My work assignment for today was to help out at the Chesser Homestead for the annual sugar cane syrup boil.  I was excited to learn about this Okefenokee swamper tradition.

_MG_1228Joining me at this celebration was fellow blogger Kimbopolo. She’s on her way back to Auburn, AL, and stopped off at Okefenokee so we could meet.  Cool Beans! _MG_1227

71 Okefenokee NWR 2012-1311

The sugar cane mill was usually powered by a mule, but today we had an Appaloosa horse to do the honors.  As the horse/mule was led around the circuit, sugar canes were fed into the mill.  I was astonished by the amount of ‘juice’ that came out of each cane.  The juice funneled down into a 55 gallon  keg.  The canes are put through the mill, and exit dry on the other side.  When the barrel is full, it’s taken to the syrup shed to be boiled down. 71 Okefenokee NWR 2012-1310The Chesser family descendants and friends began the wood fire under the 60 gallon water filled vat in the syrup shed last night.  They stayed overnight out at the homestead.  That vat has to be hot before the sugar cane juice is added.  At the last minute, the water is dipped out, and the cane juice is added to heat to a rolling boil that takes hours to boil down into syrup.  It’s quite an undertaking to produce the syrup, and back in the day the whole family participated.  Making sugar cane syrup was one of the ways the pioneer families could earn some income to add to their subsistence living.

71 Okefenokee NWR 2012-1312

Throughout the day while the cane was being milled and boiled, the ladies of the family were busy inside the homestead baking biscuits in the wood fired stove, and making lunch for the family workers.  Visitors today were treated with the homemade biscuits drizzled with pure cane syrup.  I’d never had cane syrup before, so I had to taste them.

As I was enjoying my tasty biscuit, a fellow volunteer that grew up on Chesser Island came by to instruct me on the proper eating technique for biscuits and syrup.  He’ll be 80 next month and worked on this homestead when he was young.  Apparently I was doing things wrong.  Notice how I split my biscuit (top left of collage), put on some butter, and drizzled the syrup on top.  You’re supposed to pick up the warm biscuit, push your finger down through the middle of it, and then fill the depression with syrup.  That way, I was told, you don’t even need a plate!  Nyah-Nyah  I asked him how you got the butter inside, and was told you don’t use butter, just syrup.  Being a believer in the Paula Dean philosophy that everything is better with a little bit of real butter, I politely disagreed with him.  Winking smile

There was a blue grass band playing throughout the day, and we were also treated to the singing by the Chesser ladies (top right of the collage).  The Chessers were fond of a distinctive type of music: four-note or sacred harp singing.  Their descendants continue to sing these primitive a cappella harmonies, and I was entranced by their short performance.  I’m looking forward to hearing them again at the Christmas program next month out here on the homestead.

_MG_1280

The final result of today’s endeavors was the production of the pure cane syrup.  You know I had to buy some.  The old-timer that tried to instruct me on how to properly eat a biscuit also told me that if you didn’t grow up around here, this syrup was an acquired taste.  I told him, with a smile, that I would be practicing!  It’s quite delicious.

_MG_1242

                                                                               THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

30 comments:

  1. Now that's something I'd like to try. I wonder if it's anything like our maple syrup here in Canada?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sounds like a fabulous, interesting day.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yumm! I think I would go off my diet to try that.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have to agree with you Judy. I love me some butter!

    ReplyDelete
  5. What an interesting day you had. Thank you for sharing it!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. That sounds so sweet it makes my teeth hurt just to think about it. I'd be looking for an antidote for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow! What an awesome days entertainment. There's nothing better than a hot biscuit and some 'lasses to go with it. When I was a child we ate it by pouring the molasses in a plate, adding some sweet cream, and sopping it up with the biscuit. I'm making myself real hungry. Think I'll ask Wanda to make a pan of biscuits:-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. That sounds like the process for making maple syrup. I can't imagine anything could be as good as that :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. nice sweet tale of the sugar cane boil!..I am sure the biscuits were yummy albiet with butter and syrup or just syrup!

    ReplyDelete
  10. So that's how that press works ... we saw one in Cades Cove this spring and figured out the gist of how it works, but good to see photos of it in action. No syrup for us, though. Perhaps you can smear some butter on your finger and when you make the hole, you could butter up the inside that way.

    ReplyDelete
  11. That was fun, wasn't it? It was so great to meet you, Judy. I'm quite the object of envy over on my blog - apparently everyone wants to meet you!

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a great new experience. We have never seen a press work. It is amazing how much juice comes out of that cane. Thanks for taking us along on sugar cane experience.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great story Judy--a new experience for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a fun blog to be part of..Thanks for the trip to have biscuits and fresh Sugar Cane Syrup..and my dentist thanks you, too!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Looks like great fun was had by all. And these volunteer jobs sure are learning experiences.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sounds like a fun day with good company and treats no less.

    ReplyDelete
  17. What a terrific work assignment. So interesting and wonderful pictures. I'm putting this on my calendar for hopefully next year to check into it about this time and see when they are doing it. I'd love to attend.

    Reminds me of our fall apple processing at the end of apple season where we'd pick the trees clean and gather the windfalls and then use the big old antique wooden hand crank apple press to make juice and cider. We had a beautiful Appaloosa but never did figure out how to get him to turn the crank!!

    GREAT POST! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Never have tried pure cane syrup. Wondering how it compares to honey?

    ReplyDelete
  19. In Indiana on St. Road 47 just west of US 31 there is a 'town' Bakers Corner where they have a mill to make sorghum molasses; it is just like the one for the cane My Dad and I stopped to buy some one fall and just as we pulled in a tanker pulled in with corn syrup on it. They were watering down the sorghum. We left. I have not been through there for several years, so I do not know if the place is still in operation.

    Thanks for a great blog and please be careful on the road.
    Rex

    ReplyDelete
  20. There you go again, finding another great place to visit and giving us a lesson. We saw one of those cane presses somewhere in our travels but I sure can't recall where. It was not being used at the time. It looked like the horses were on stand-by or taking a break.

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a treat to be involved in such a historic process. I would like to try the "hole in the biscuit" method of syrup application. And then your method. Back and forth until I was absolutely certain which tasted better!!

    Mark

    ReplyDelete
  22. What fun and what fun that you and Kim met... always finding great stuff to experience. Ha... great horse's patoot...

    ReplyDelete
  23. A sweet experience indeed. I do have to agree, butter is one of the finer things in life, especially on a biscuit!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Sounds like a fun time, never had sugar cane syrup but now have to try it sometime.

    ReplyDelete
  25. What a wonderful day. . .and you and Paula Deen are correct. . .EVERYTHING IS BETTER with butter on it!

    Janice
    ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing Blog
    FaceBook.com/ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing

    ReplyDelete
  26. Yes, butter is a must! I used to go with my dad to the "sugar bush" to boil down Maple Syrup. Thjis looks like an interesting process as well. Great post and photos!

    ReplyDelete
  27. butterbean carpenterNovember 22, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    Howdy Judy & Emma,
    Out here in Texas (at Henderson) we have a syrup MAKIN'; a BOIL is a RISEN or infection, that hurts like EVATHANG and makes an awful scar; ain't got nuthin' to do with MAKIN' PURE CANE SYRUP!!! You don't need butter unless you're going to use the syrup, like Jerry Clower & the Ledbetters do and swipe one of those WONDERFUL LITE-WATE BUTTERMILK BISCUITS thru the butter & syrup mixture!! OOOOEEE!!!!! NOW, THATZ SOME GOOOOOD EATIN'!!!!!!
    I sure am glad you have an AMERICAN SURGEON doing your hip and didn't have to go to the VA horsespistol to have it done by a you don't know what, who doesn't speak a language you understand!!! THATZ SCARY!!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. understand this blog site http://casinogamesonlinee@blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  29. Nice Post.Thanks for Sharing this in your Blog

    ReplyDelete