From today’s entry (Thoreau’s Journal: 21-Mar-1856)—
I left home at ten and got back before twelve with two and three quarters pints of sap, in addition to the one and three quarters I found collected.
I put in saleratus and a little milk while boiling, the former to neutralize the acid, and the latter to collect the impurities in a skum. After boiling it till I burned it a little, and my small quantity would not flow when cool, but was as hard as half-done candy, I put it on again, and in a minute it was softened and turned to sugar.
While collecting sap, the little of yesterday’s lodging snow that was left, dropping from the high pines in Trillium Wood and striking the brittle twigs in its descent, makes me think that the squirrels are running there.
I noticed that my fingers were purpled, evidently from the sap on my auger.
Had a dispute with Father about the use of my making this sugar when I knew it could be done and might have bought sugar cheaper at Holden’s. He said it took me from my studies. I said I made it my study; I felt as if I had been to a university.