Hungry for a sweet treat? It's easy to make your own maple syrup.
- TIP: The larger the pan, the more quickly the evaporation process will be completed.
- Step 1: Boil down the sap for several hours, continually adding fresh sap from the bucket to the pan. Keep at least 1½ inches of sap in the pan at all times to prevent burning. As you add sap and water evaporates, measure the temperature with a candy thermometer. Note that the boiling point of the syrup is rising.
- Step 2: Continue adding sap and boiling for several hours until the sap reaches a boiling point of about 7.1 degrees Fahrenheit above the boiling temperature of water at your elevation. Pour the hot liquid through a syrup filter into a sturdy metal pan to remove any solids.
- TIP: Your maple syrup should have a density of 66 to 67 Brix on the hydrometer.
- FACT: A crop of tapped maple trees is called a "sugar bush."
- Step 3: Put the pan over the fire, heat the syrup to 190 degrees, and pour the hot liquid into canning jars. Fill, seal, and briefly turn the jars upside down before storing in a cool, dry place. Then, make your favorite breakfast and smother it in delicious, homemade maple syrup!
- TIP: Start the evaporation process as soon as possible after collecting the sap to prevent spoilage.
- Step 4: Pour the sap that collects into the evaporation pan as soon as you have enough to line the bottom of the pan 2½ inches high. Light the wood in the fire pit. Place the bucket back on the spile and the pan on the grate over the fire pit.
- Step 5: Find a maple tree: look for one that is at least 10 inches in diameter if you're planning on one tap hole; add 8 inches to the diameter for each additional hole. Do not place more than three taps in a single tree.
- Step 6: Make sure you pick the right time in early spring, when temperatures are below freezing at night and above freezing during the day.
- Step 7: Drill a hole in the trunk 1½ to 3 inches deep, 3 to 4 feet from the ground, and angled slightly upward. If the tree has holes from previous tappings, position the new hole 4 inches above and 6 inches to the right or left of them.
- Step 8: Drive a spile, or spout, firmly into the hole with your hands, being careful not to split the wood. Hang a maple syrup sap bucket on each spile you drill into your tree, and cover the buckets to prevent precipitation or debris from contaminating the sap.
- TIP: It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make a single gallon of maple syrup.
- : Make sure all containers used to hold sap or maple syrup are food-ready to prevent food-borne illness.