While money doesn't grow on trees, maple syrup sure does! Made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple, and black maple trees, maple syrup is a favorite condiment on pancakes and waffles. We know that it comes from maple sap, but have you ever wondered how to make maple syrup from start to finish?
How To Make Maple Syrup
Have a maple tree in the backyard? You've already accomplished step one of making your own maple syrup. Most commercial maple syrup is produced in the northern states but can be made down to Tenessee if the weather is right. For the sap to run, the temperature must drop below freezing at night and above freezing during the day to produce sap flow. The time window is short because once the trees start budding, the maple sugaring is over. Weather conditions are usually perfect for collecting sap around early spring.
Tapping the Trees
Grab yourself a spile and a drill, drill bit, and hammer. Create a taphole with the drill, then attach the spile into the tree. The spout should be facing a slight angle to the ground to promote drainage. Place a bucket under the spile to collect sap.
Since sap is perishable, sap should be collected and boiled daily or kept cold in a storage container until you have collected enough from your sap run to boil.
Boiling Sap into Syrup
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Boiling down maple sap! So. Many. Hours. Pretty stoked about this set up. Buuut while it's better than previous years, it still needs improvement! It started raining and hailing so I threw some dumpy tarp over it, for ex. Next year I'm hoping to have an actual structure to do the evaporating in, but this will suffice for now. 40 gallons down, 6 more currently boiling on some smaller burners! Hoping to get a bit under a gallon of syrup. Really hoping this cold snap will bring another couple barrels full..... #maplesyrup #bigleafmaplesyrup #boilingsap #countrylife #aseasonalshift #aseasonalyear #seasonalliving #seasonalfood #seasonallife #localfood #eatlocal #eatwildfood #localeats #wildcraft #wildlocalfood #wildlocal #syrup #wildfoodlove
Due to how messy it is, many maple syrup producers use sugarhouses or sugar shacks to boil their gallons of sap or cook their sap outside either in a stainless steel turkey fryer or some other heat source.
Boil the sap until it reaches 219F, about 7 degrees higher than the boiling point of water. Use a candy thermometer to double-check the temperature. You can also test to see if your homemade maple syrup is ready by using a hydrometer. Once the hot syrup is done, filter the pure maple syrup through a syrup filter or coffee filter to remove the sugar sand. When it comes to bottling, mason jars are always a good option for the finished syrup.
Where To Find Real Vermont Syrup
Live in the south? Thankfully there are tons of maple syrup producers in the Northern United States that offer the great taste of syrup in the convenience of a bottle.
One of my favorite syrup brands is Maple Craft Foods, which is a company based in Vermont and Connecticut. This pure maple syrup (no corn syrup here!) is made by boiling gallons of sap over an open flame.
I love to enjoy their blueberry maple syrup on waffles and pancakes and their Hot Honey Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup on chicken and waffles.