I am very proud to be Canadian. I am proud of our country and people, and I am proud of what we are known for… you know, stuff like Mounties, moose, beavers and maple syrup….
So, to keep those stereotypes alive, I decided that I should learn how to make my own maple syrup, like a good Canadian! I tried once before a couple years ago, (I think I might have blogged about it too) and since I bought all the maple syrup-ing gear and high tech equipment, I might as well put it to good use. Btw, the gear I am referring to is a bucket, a tap and a plastic tube.
The photo above is the tree on our front lawn. Since all of my neighbours think I am a little crazy anyways, there’s no need to hide my syrup making operation from anyone. 🙂
Here’s the process. Drill a hole in the tree, about three feet up, close to two inches deep. I used a 7/16 drill bit.
You basically keep drilling until the sawdust starts to get wet and mushy. When you remove the drill bit, if the sap starts dripping, it’s ready to put a tap in it. You can kind of see in the photo below.
Btw, the white stringy stuff you can see isn’t mold, it’s actually just spiderwebs left over from last years Halloween decorations…
You know you have drilled to the right depth when the sap starts running down the bark of the tree. When that happens, use a hammer to gently tap the spigot or tap in.
Then, connect the hose to the tap, and make sure the other end is going right into the bucket. You should be able to see it running.
I found that the most sap is collected late morning to the afternoon. Overnight, the sap slows down a little, I guess because it gets below freezing most nights.
Here are the first few drops. It looks like it is going to take weeks and weeks, but it is surprising how quickly it accumulates!
I also tapped the maple tree in our backyard. Every day, I would say I collected anywhere between 10-15 cups of sap. Every night, I put the sap in a saucepan and let it simmer until it was about 50% of its volume, then I cooled it and stored it in the fridge until the end of the week, when I made the syrup.
Now for the exciting part…. watching a pot boil for hours and hours! There is absolutely nothing difficult about making maple syrup. It does not require any skill, talent or knowledge… just a lot of time.
I started with about half a saucepan, let it boil, and kept adding more sap as it boiled down. You must have an exhaust fan running, because this generates a lot of moisture in your house!
I have no idea if there is a more scientific way to tell, but I figured my maple syrup was done when it is the thickness of maple syrup. It turned out a lovely amber colour. It’s amazing how sweet it is!
So, I’m not sure exactly how much sap I started with, but I read online that it has to reduce 40 times to make syrup! So make sure you scrape every drop of that syrup out of the pot!
Not sure if I’m going to do it again, when I add up the cost, including electricity, it’s probably ten times what it costs to buy. However the cost of saying you made you own maple syrup….priceless!