Tag Archives: tapping a maple tree

Sappy to Sweet… The Maple Syrup experiment-step 2

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Sappy to Sweet… The Maple Syrup experiment-step 2

So if you read my last post, this weekend we tapped into two maple trees on our property, and started collecting sap, one drip at a time.

Link to collecting sap from our Maple trees

When I woke up yesterday morning, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t run right outside (yes, in my PJ’s) to check my sap buckets. The one in the backyard was about halfway full! But, the one in the front only had about an inch. Overall, I would say there was about 5-6 litres. Here was the overnight haul, it’s hard to see, because the sap looks as clear as water, but the smaller pot was from the tree in our front yard.



I used a coffee filter to pour the sap through.



As you can see, there were a lot of little bits of sediment at the bottom of the pot.



I poured in about 6-8 cups of sap, then I turned on the stove at a medium heat and let it boil and boil….

And boil some more. And more. Note: I kept the stove/range fan on for most of the day as I have heard that the amount of moisture produced can do some damage to your house!

Kind of ironic, but I was thinking about going to a local sugar bush to see maple syrup being made with friends yesterday, but I couldn’t because I had to watch the pot boil. Watching a pot boil all day is actually not as much fun as you might think. Lol



I kept adding more sap as it reduced. I used a spoon to roughly measure, and everytime it reduced by half, I poured it a little more sap. I never let it get lower than about an inch. You can see in the below picture how it started changing colour and getting a little darker as it reduced. The smaller pot on the right was my boiling pot. 



It only took about 6 hours to reduce it…here is what it looked like towards the end.



You are supposed to use a thermometer to determine when the syrup is ready, but to be totally honest, by the time there was only about a centimeter left in the pot, I just couldn’t let any more boil away. I figured if it reduced any more, there wouldn’t even be enough for all of us to have on our pancakes. I thought it was better to have more syrup, even if it was runny syrup. Better runny than none!

At the bottom of the pot, there was some more sediment, so I strained it again through a coffee filter…



So, this is what 5 litres of sap turned into:



Liquid gold! I have to say, that I have a whole new appreciation for Maple Syrup now. God help anyone in my house who wastes a drop of maple syrup from now on! 

My friend dropped by late afternoon, and picked us up some syrup from the sugar bush, and we laughed at the tiny bottle, but in comparison, it doesn’t look so tiny!

Just to give you some perspective, the pot was 3/4 full with sap, and this is the bottle of syrup it produced.

So, let me give you a quick summary….

– About $40 in supplies, including the spigots, buckets, tubes, and drill bit

-About 10 hours to collect the sap

-About six hours of boiling time to reduce the sap to syrup

So, $40 plus 16 hours to make 1/2 a cup. Wow! 

But, the experience of now being able to say that I tapped our trees and made maple syrup from scratch….. Priceless! 

We did a taste test this morning with our signature chocolate chip pancakes…

Ms. Butterworts vs. The real maple syrup vs. Our maple syrup! 



It was pretty hard not to be a little biased here… But our syrup go four out of four votes (or at least no one dared to vote otherwise)



As you can see, it was a success. We still have quite a bit left after our morning pancakes … We could try making taffy, but I don’t know if I can bring myself to boil it down any more! 

So, I can check this off my bucket list. The problem is that my bucket list keeps getting longer… Isn’t it supposed to get shorter as you get older? I need to retire soon! 

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Maple syrup…Step One! Don’t be Sappy! 

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Maple syrup…Step One! Don’t be Sappy! 

OK, I know I am never going to hear the end of this, but I’m going to try it anyways… We have four big beautiful maple trees on our property, and I have always wanted to try, so we’re gonna make our own Maple syrup! That being said, to make one litre of syrup, you need 40 litres of sap. So, I’m thinking we might end up with about a cup of maple syrup…. If we are lucky! Lol

I have been waiting for the weather to warm up, because you can’t tap the trees until the day time temperatures are above freezing. But, now finally, we have had a few days in a row where the temperature is above freezing! 

So, you can order maple syrup making supplies online, but I found a hardware store right around the corner that sells the taps. I bought two taps, two buckets with lids, and about 5-6 feet of plastic tubing. the buckets were less than five dollars each, and the spigots were three dollars, and the tubing was only a few dollars, so it’s pretty cheap to try. It will probably only cost about four times as much as a regular bottle of maple syrup, plus the countless hours it will take me to make! (Btw -john says I shouldn’t count my time because my time costs us nothing! Lol) 

As you can see in the above photo, I also bought a plastic tube, thinking that I might be able to use that as a tap as well, but I didn’t end up using the plastic ones.

We have two sugar maple trees in the front of our house, and two silver maple trees in the back. I did actually (surprisingly) do a bit of research on tree identification before I started. My plan was to collect sap from one tree in the front, and one in the back. Here is a picture sam took of the trees in our backyard.



The process is actually pretty easy to collect the sap. About three feet up, drill a hole 2-3 inches deep. I used a 7/16 drill bit.



If you wait about a minute after you drill, you should see the sap start to flow. On our first try, we got nothing. Pretty disappointing. But we tried the next tree, and within a minute, we had sap! So, we quickly hammered the spigot into the hole. (didn’t want to lose a drop!)



Look, sap! 

Then we connected the plastic tubing to the spigot, so the sap would flow directly into the bucket. Sam was my assistant and photographer today.

And of course, i had to drill a hole in the top of the bucket to accomodate the tubing.

Here’s what the set up looks like in the backyard!And in the front of our house:



I hope no one comes along and steals our sap! I think all of our neighbours already think I am crazy, so I’m not worried about that, but I’m thinking I might put a Please Do Not Touch sign on it…. 

Anyways, we went to the mall to pick up a present for a birthday party Sam had this afternoon, and by the time we got back, we had a couple inches of sap at the bottom of the bucket! It’s pretty cool, it looks just like water. The kids and I decided we want to try a little bit of the sap to see what it tastes like. I read online that you should boil it for about a minute before you drink it.



I also read online, that the sap should be boiled within a day, and spoils easily, so tomorrow morning, I’m going to try boiling it down into syrup. Apparently it takes quite a while, and creates a lot of moisture in the house, so I’ll have to keep a close eye on it and keep the fan on the stove on. Boy, is it lucky I don’t have anything else to do this weekend! Did I mention already that we are off work and school this week for March Break? I love being a teacher (in the middle of March, and July and August especially!) 

I’ll give you a syrup update as soon as I can to let you know how the next part of our syrup making journey goes!