This year we decided to try something new and make our own maple syrup. It is really not difficult at all, and is a fun way to get outside in the early spring. First of all, all I know about making maple syrup is from reading one book – we are not experts, but making syrup is very easy for beginners. The basic process of making your own maple syrup is tap trees, collect sap, and boil the sap until you make maple syrup. Let’s go through these step by step!
1. Tap maple trees
It’s a good idea to mark out the maple trees in the fall before they lose their leaves. It’s very difficult to tell which trees are maples in the middle of winter. We sort of guessed which trees were maples, and looked at the bark for an indication of the type of tree.
To tap the trees, all you do is drill a hole and hammer in the spiles. The drill bit size will depend on which spile you get. We used plastic spiles and tubes. You should tap the trees in the early spring when it’s freezing temperatures at night, and above freezing during the day. Where we live, this was the second weekend in March.
2. Collect the sap
We bought some large used food grade plastic buckets with lids to collect our sap. We drilled a hole in the side of the bucket, and put the rubber tube into it. Make sure you shovel a hole in the snow for your bucket, because over the next few weeks the snow will melt and you’ll risk your bucket tipping over and losing the precious sap.
We tapped a total of six trees, and on a warm day the buckets would fill up entirely. We collected the buckets and stored them in snow until the weekend, when we started the boiling process.
3. Evaporate the sap to make maple syrup
Next is the fun part of evaporating all the sap. We bought a used evaporator from a friend that’s basically a steel barrel with the top cut out. It’s not fancy, but it works! Stock the stove up with wood and let it burn hot all day.
We had two large metal pans that fit nicely on the top of the homemade evaporator. To keep the syrup constantly boiling, we poured the fresh sap in the front pan. As the sap in the back pan boils and evaporates, ladle the sap from the front pan into the back. After about eight buckets of sap and eight hours of boiling, the sap was evaporated down enough that it was getting close to the point of being syrup.
When the syrup got to about 212°F, we brought it inside to finish boiling on the stove. With a wood burning stove outside, we had a great chance of impurities and soot. We got rid of some of the dirt by filtering the sap through coffee filters. Then we boiled for another hour or so inside until the syrup got to 220°F. Transfer it to glass jars, and that’s how to make maple syrup!
I made some fudge from the the syrup, and it was super delicious. I am not a great baker, but this recipe was so detailed that’s it’s basically no fail! Have you ever tried to make maple syrup?