Apr 13 2013

Make Your Own Maple Syrup

A few days a go I thought I was going to tell all of you that making your own maple syrup was a cool idea, but not worth the hassle. But things have changed.

Now that we have the finished product, and know how delicious it is, and how much fun we had doing it, you must give it a go!

It seemed daunting in the beginning because it takes a tremendous amount of sap to make maple syrup, and you really have to watch it when you boil it down, but kids love it, and it really is cool.

We purchased our supplies from Tap My Trees. The kit includes 3, 3 gallon buckets with lids, taps, a drill bit, cheese cloth and a guide to making your own syrup.

The best time to do it is in February, March and early April, depending on temperatures. Ideally, you want it to be in the 40s during the day, with dips down to the 20s at night. It also doesn’t hurt to live somewhere like Michigan, as we do, with tons of Maple Trees. You can use any kind of Maple Tree, but Sugar Maples are the best. We are fortunate enough to have two in our backyard. You can tell Sugar Maples apart from other Maple trees because their leaves have 5 spokes, rather than 4. The Silver Maple is the only other Maple with 5 lobes, but it looks different than the Sugar. Check out this link for comparisons. The booklet from Tap My Trees also contains pictures of all the Maple leaves.

We had two buckets going – one on each tree. One filled up totally, and kept going, while the other made it just over 1/2 way. If we started earlier in the season, we could have kept tapping the one tree and made more syrup, but this year we just stuck with 1.5 buckets. The result was 24 ounces of syrup.

The more you boil it down, the more sugary it gets. We could have boiled it down more, and had less syrup as a result, but I don’t like it too sweet.

So, here’s what you do.

First, if you can, buy a kit. It makes it a lot easier.

Then use a wireless electric drill to drill a hole upward – so the spout will drain downward. Then hammer in the tap.

Put the bucket on the hook, and then add the lid.

The sap started flowing the second we put the tap in. That’s how you know it’s a good tree. A good tree can fill up a 3 gallon bucket in a day or so. This tree took about 4 days though.

Now it’s time to boil the sap down. First, strain the sap using the cheesecloth to remove any unwanted sediment. We used an outdoor grill because the evaporating sap and make counter tops sticky, but next time I will do it all indoors because it’s faster. Just leave the lid on, and lifted a little with the vent on so it’s all directed in one place.

Once the syrup turns color, and starts looking like syrup, pay close attention so it doesn’t burn.

You can use a candy thermometer to tell you when it’s done, but I like the taste test. Stop boiling it down when it reaches the taste and consistency you like.

That’s it. You’ve made your own Maple Syrup! Sorry to post this after the season has ended, but we just wrapped it up. I’ll post this again next year to remind you all to get your buckets out!


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