Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Homemade Maple Syrup - It's a Wrap!

Maple sap normally looks clear like water, but as the season
draws to a close, it becomes cloudy.
Our first year at maple sap collecting and maple syrup making is in the books.  And it couldn't have been easier.

The collecting season can last from two to six weeks, depending on the weather.  This year, for us here in northwest Ohio, it lasted about four weeks. We knew it was time to start when daytime temperatures reached above freezing, while nighttime ones dipped below that point.

How did we know when to stop?  Once the nighttime temperatures stayed at freezing or above, the sap flow slowed considerably and the sap became cloudy.  This happens at about the same time that the buds on the trees begin leafing out.

When the maple buds start to leaf out, it's time to call it quits on sap collecting.

We tapped three trees - two of them had two taps - and in the end, collected 42 gallons of sap.  It's reported that you need 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. We ended up with about 1½ gallons of syrup.

So would I do it again?  Of course. I'm still kicking myself for all the wasted years we didn't do this. Would it be easier to just buy genuine maple syrup at the grocery?  Absolutely.  That much maple syrup would cost about $150, more or less, depending on the grade. But the experience of making it from sap collected from our own trees is worth more.  And it tastes better because of that, too.  ;-)

There aren't enough adjectives to describe the flavor of homemade maple syrup, but here are some:


We've eaten it on pancakes and put it in our oatmeal.  But my favorite way to eat it is with a spoon right from the jar. 

How long will maple syrup last?  That's kind of a moot point in this house, but unopened, it will keep indefinitely.  After opening, it should be kept in the refrigerator, where it can also be kept indefinitely. Like honey, if it crystalizes, all you need to do is heat it and you're good to go!

The spiles have been removed and the tree will heal the areas where we
tapped by this time next year.


Jean said...

OKAY!!! That answered my question. Sounds like it's going to be a yearly ritual now!!

Erin @ The Impatient Gardener said...

I love maple syrup and we certainly have plenty of maples we could tap, but it's the boiling down process that has me less than excited about the prospect. I wouldn't want to be outside either and after you mentioned the steam and sticky residue, I wouldn't want to do it inside either. I'd rather just have someone else do it and then give it to me. :)

outlawgardener said...

My maternal grandfather made (commercially although it was a one man operation) maple syrup on the ancestral farm in Vermont as did generations before him. Although he died before I was born, he lives in my memory through my mother's stories. (During rationing in WWII, they always had plenty of maple sugar to substitute - just keep boiling past the syrup stage) One of my favorite things that she handed down to me is making sugar on snow. We seldom get snow here, and only every few years do we get snow deep enough but when we do, I get out the syrup and boil it down a little more, go outside and drizzle it on the surface of the snow. All you need is a fork to pick up and twirl the sweet strands. Yum!

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