We have one maple tree in our back yard. It’s a big one, but it is still only one. But when I went to the maple syrup festival last year and saw how easy it is to make maple syrup, I thought I’d give it a try.
I have a friend who owns some land in Michigan and has about 50 sugar maple trees. He is tapping about 30 of them this year, but he has about 50 spiles or taps. He let me use a couple of them. I am tapping a single tree, so I put two taps into my tree as it is big enough to be able to handle two. My tree is a silver maple, which don’t work as well as sugar maples, but according to what I have been reading they should work.
Here is what I used:
- Drill with 1/2″ bit
- Half dozen one gallon milk jugs
- 2 Spiles
- Half dozen one gallon glass jars
- 5 gallon pan for boiling
- Wood to boil the sap
Boiling. One of the challenges of making maple syrup is that it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make a single gallon of syrup. And you can only store the sap for 7 or so days before it starts to be unusable. So I am hoping to get 10 gallons to make 1 quart. If I can do that a couple of times, I’d be really excited.
So next step is tapping the tree. This is what the spiles look like. Pretty simple. Need to drill 1/2″ hole in the tree in two locations. This should give me about 1/2 gallon a day of sap to boil.
In the spirit of reducing waste, I used old milk jugs, punched a whole in the side and hung them. I tapped the tree twice and have two milk jugs. As you will see in the video coming up. I actually messed up and drilled one of the holes to big, so had to drill a second hole. Oops.
Here is some video of the first day:
Here is the first gallon of sap that was extracted. It looks like moonshine or something. I tasted it and don’t really taste the sugars from the syrup. I wonder how they figured out you could make this into syrup.
It’s the day of our first boil. I only have about 4 gallons of sap, so I won’t get that much syrup, but I am excited about the process. Plus I have a bunch of scraps of wood in the back yard I’d like to get rid of. I sent out a note, inviting the neighbors, so we will see how many show up.
Here is the stove I made for the cooking:
Here the boil is starting:
Here is it starting to turn brown (meaning the water is boiling out and mostly syrup left):
It was hard to see what temperature it was (you are supposed to let it get to about 219 or 7 degrees above boiling) to know if enough of the water had boiled out of the sap, so here is a quick video of us finishing it off on the stove:
The fun news is we had a few families show up and some kids playing. It is fun when you can combine community and food. Next year I think I am going to try to get more trees and more people interested and involved.
Finally, here is the photo of the finished product. We ended up with a pint of syrup and it was delicious. You can see its dark brown color and the steam still raising off the jar. The girls and Julie really liked it as well, so it wasn’t just crazy me. I hope to do it a couple of more times this season, but that will depend a bit on Mother Nature.