It’s Maple Syrup Time!
Did you know anyone can make maple syrup?
I think that’s why we enjoy making it. The process is simple. We collect some sap from maple trees and boil it down to a certain point and we have made maple syrup. To make maple syrup is not a complicated process. There is only one ingredient – maple sap. And there is only one thing you need to do with the sap – boil it.
It is the simplicity of the process, the high potential for success, and the very tasty results that have us hooked!
In previous years, the first sap run was not until the last week in Feb. This year late January temperatures were in the zone of freeze thaw cycle needed for maple sap to start flowing. We decided to get at jump on the season and we tapped a few trees. Putting taps into the trees is like getting ready for Christmas – we were all excited as we made plans and put everything in place for a great maple syrup season!
Since we started collecting sap early this year we soon began running out of space to store it all before we could boil it. One thing to know about maple sap is that it will go bad. It is best to treat sap like milk. And like milk, maple sap will store for up to 7 – 10 days at 38 degrees or cooler. When the weather is cold, sap can be stored in food grade buckets and lids on a porch. As the season progresses and the temperature rises, you will need to store sap someplace cooler. You can store sap inside in a cooler with ice, in a fridge or freezer. So be sure to keep your sap cool until you can boil it.
Get Evaporator Ready
Last week I began putting our evaporator together and gathering everything we needed to begin boiling. We did upgrade our sap pan. This pan is designed for boiling sap. We stepped up to a 2′ x 3′ x 6″ tall stainless steel pan. This larger pan is much bigger than what we were using last year. The pan has a much larger surface area for contact with the fire from below. Boiling was much more efficient and we were able to cut our boiling time down by half.
We build our own evaporator, and it is not fancy. The evaporator comes together each year and is made of concrete blocks, that hold up our sap pan, with a small metal flue pipe as a chimney. This is our third season making our own maple syrup and each year we’ve tried to improve our process. The evaporator is a little bigger this year to hold our new sap pan.
Our new sap pan saved us several hours of boiling time. The pan also came with a smaller pan that goes on top to warm the sap before draining into the main pan to be boiled. Getting the finished syrup out of the pan is also made easier thanks to a drain on the side of the pan.
First Boil of the Season
Our first day boiling our sap is always a bit exciting. All the steps taken so far have led up to this day and its time to light the fire!
Our time boiling was greatly reduced and we really enjoyed our time outside feeding the fire, watching the sap boil, and being part of the process.
There is a long history of making maple syrup in the Mohawk Valley and we’re happy to be part if this tradition. We’re still learning but we really enjoy our annual hobby making our own maple syrup here in the Mohawk Valley!
Once we got the sap boiling for a while before we knew it the roughly 30-gallons of maple sap had boiled down to near maple syrup. The simplest way to tell if your sap is becoming syrup is by temperature. To make syrup, the sap must be heated up to 7-degrees above the boiling point of water. That means the sap must be boiling at 219 degrees Fahrenheit. Once this is achieved you have made maple syrup!
This was the first boil of the season. The sap is still running and there are several weeks ahead in the 2023 Maple Syrup season. We’ll keep you posted on how we’re doing.
Hopefully you can see that you could make your own maple syrup too. Until we tried we didn’t know how easy it could be. It is a fun way to enjoy the outdoors and make something tasty for your family. We hope you give it a try!