We are at the very end of syrup season here in New England. The contrasting temperatures make for best sapping, but as the days warm, so do the nights, closing the window for prime sap collection.
So if you’ve got a few maple trees in your backyard, you may be able to get that last bit of sap and make your own maple syrup sweet goodness.
First things first
Prepare everything before you begin tapping and collecting sap. You do not want to do this in your home kitchen; you can imagine cleaning would be a nightmare. You may already have an outdoor set up where you can easily heat a big metal vat or pot over a brick grill, for instance, but if not, this can easily be put together.
Drilling the tap hole
Take a look here for guidelines on selecting your tree and drilling. Once you have your hole, insert a spout for a cleaner pour. A spout can be out of metal or wood. You might even have an old spigot that you can use. You just need the spout to act as a bridge between the tree and your collecting vessel without losing any precious sap.
Be sure to check your taps frequently – this way you can retrieve your sap immediately once your buckets have been filled, or the sap flow has stopped because otherwise it will spoil in the sun. Your tree, depending on the size, will only yield 12-20 gallons, and not all at once; this can take all season. You need 40 gallons of sap at least to produce just 1 gallon of syrup.
Boil it down
Once you’ve collected all your sap for the day, transfer it to a big metal vat or pot than can be placed on an outdoor stove. You should plan to boil your sap after each day of collection. Boil sap until 7 degrees above 212, which is when water boils. But remember that water’s boiling point can change with altitude (higher altitude, lower boiling point; lower altitude, higher boiling point). Continue boiling until it runs off the spoon like syrup should, not like water, but be careful as syrup is sneaky and can spill over quickly.
You have to filter the syrup as it will have natural sediment throughout. You can do this two ways: pour it through a filter into another metal vat or pot, or pour it directly into another metal contraption, let it cool overnight allowing the sediment to settle, and pour off the syrup the next day.
Can it, Jar it, Jug it!
Choose your preferred method of storing this precious golden deliciousness. I like jars. Heat the syrup again to 180 degrees in the metal container, and then fill your jars to the tippy top for the best seal. And slap on those lids.
Note: Your jars are shelf stable indefinitely, or better yet, keep them frozen. Once opened though, be sure to refrigerate.
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