I thought that the sap had just about finished running back in March when we made syrup last time much to our delight however, a quick freeze and a week of warm days produced a 2.5 gallon encore of maple tree sap!
If you squint just right at this first picture you can see that the bucket is almost exactly 1/2 full. That means we’re starting with 2.5 gallons of sap (this is a 5 gallon bucket).
While Home Depot calls this a Homer bucket, in reality it can only hold a tiny fraction of a Homer (0.086 homers)
I think this batch’s sap must’ve had a much higher sugar content. For one thing the sap actually browned as it turned into syrup. It also made a lot more of it! I used a candy thermometer again and took it off the stove when it reached 220 degrees Fahrenheit. It had the desired maple flavor this time instead of the good-and-sweet-but-not-quite-mapley flavor of last time. As I took it off the stove it seemed too thin, but as it cooled it did thicken up.
As the sap was boiling I knew I needed to filter it to remove the particulate that is making it cloudy. The only thing I had on hand was some cheesecloth, so I used some cheesecloth folded over to about 8 layer thick to filter it as I poured it into this syrup jar. It did remove some particulate, but not enough. As you can see, the syrup is still cloudy. After a few days the particulate settled out, but obviously I’ll need to find an appropriate filter for next year.
We cooked this down on April 2. That afternoon we had some friends over and Caroline made scones for us all to enjoy!
That’s it for Maple production in Fridley this year. Join us again next year when we do it again! Except we’ll do it right next time! And make even more syrup!
On Saturday I decided it was time to boil the sap that we had collected from our maple tree and see how it turned out. We ended up with about 2.5 gallons of sap in the bucket. 2.5 gallons just happens to be 40 cups. Since the sap supposedly needs to reduce down 40:1, I figured we would probably have about a cup of sap.
Although I have heard that maple steam can get a kitchen sticky I decided to boil it in the kitchen anyways. It turned out fine even if it did produce a lot of steam. I filled up this pot, and turned up the heat. As the sap boiled off and made room for more, I kept adding sap till it was all in there. The thermometer is waiting for 119.5 degrees. Ohio State University has a page which says that syrup will be ready when it reaches 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit above boiling, with our elevation that temperature ended up being 119.5 degrees.
It started out so thin and watery that I thought maybe water had gotten into the bucket somehow. Once it started steaming I could smell that it was maple sap. Eventually it boiled down to a white foamy goo, and Caroline started cooking pancakes.
I took it off when it reached 220 degrees even though it wasn’t maple-syrup-brown. It ended up being a very light brown — almost still white. I’m guessing that I needed to cook it more. Here’s the syrup in our syrup jar.
We thought that maybe if we put little pancakes on little plates it would look like we had more syrup. There ended up being 3/4 cup syrup which was enough for everyone to have a tasty little snack.
I had a lot of fun making the syrup. Next year I will definitely be looking to tap friends and neighbor’s trees if they will let me! It really wasn’t difficult and the results were delicious!
Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to make homemade maple syrup. There were probably various influences, but one that sticks out in my mind is the sugaring Little House in the Big Woods. Long story short, my parents never let me tap the maple tree in our yard, and I have had to live with this suppressed desire my whole life so far.
I have collected about two gallons of sap so far. I ended up having to remove the spiles because they weren’t tight enough in the holes, and were letting sap run down the side of the tree. Inserting just the tubing has been working well however. It’s fairly stiff tubing and I am able to insert about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of it into my holes.
Also, I got a mention in the Fridley Patch! Many thanks to Dave McCoy for coming over to interview me, and for the nice article.
I made some spiles (the peg/spout that goes into the tree) from some pen barrels on recommendation of another blog I found via. Google and put tapped our Maple tree last night!
I think that I probably could’ve just put the tubing directly into the tree. Unlike some of the clear tubing I have seen pictures of, this tubing is the hard slightly opaque stuff, not the softer squishy clear stuff. I think it’s probably stiff enough to not need a spile.
We’ll see how it goes! I’m optimistic enough that I might ask our neighbor if I can tap his two trees too. One of his trees is probably a whole foot wider than this one, and could handle three taps.