Making Maple Syrup

Picture of Making Maple Syrup
This is my first instructable so comments would be nice.
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Step 1: Getting Supplies

First we have to get the necessary supplies.

Supplies needed:

Sugar Maple


Drill Bit (I used 3/8in.)

Sap Collectors(I used plastic bottles with holes in the sides)

Stove or Turkey Fryer, or make one out of bricks

Pot or pan to boil the sap in

Step 2: Identifying the Tree

Picture of Identifying the Tree
The tree is not that easy to identify but for those of us who were boy scouts its easy. Here are pictures of a tree and the leaves.

Step 3: Drilling Holes

Picture of Drilling Holes
The title and picture explain it all. I used a 3/8in. drill bit as that was the size of the tubes. Be sure that the tree is large enough, if it is less than 10in. in diameter you can not tap it, but for every 8in. added to diameter you can add 1 more tap. For example if a tree is 34in. in diameter you can put four taps on it. Be sure not to drill to deep, about 3in. is good enough.

Step 4: Collecting Sap

Picture of Collecting Sap
After you have drilled the holes put tubes or taps into the holes and attach the bottles or buckets with hooks, hangers, or duct tape. The tubes were jammed in with the help of a hammer.

Step 5: Boiling the Sap

Picture of Boiling the Sap
Next comes boiling the sap. This process can take up to 12 hours. If you are like me though, and only come out with a gallon and a half of syrup, it takes 7 hours. The peak temp. of the sap should be 7 degrees above the boiling point, 100 degrees C. and 212 degrees F. Don't let the sap boil down to less than 1in. or it will burn.

Step 6: Bottling the Syrup

Picture of Bottling the Syrup
Finally we get to bottle our syrup. Strain it and then bottle it. Make sure to strain it while it is still hot or it will salidify on you and will be hard to strain. Storing syrup in the freezer is ideal as good syrupp won't freeze. Put it in the freezer AFTER is has cooled or the bottle will crack. I hope you enjoy your syrup!!
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vincent75202 years ago
I wouldn't be so sure that epoxy is a good idea to plug a tree. After all it is pretty acid and is very toxic to humans !!!…
A simple traditional window putty and a wooden plug would do as well I guess.
SkyHive2 years ago
Hopefully Simeek will weigh in here. I really want to see what he has to add to the conversation.
I use a different scale.
10 inshes 1 tap and every 5 inches add 1 tap. But no more than 5 taps.
Yeah. Thats true. it is not necessary to seal up your tap hole. I dont seal any of mine and i tap hundreds of trees. just move the tap hole 3 inches over and 5 inches up or down for the next year.
Trow8 years ago
ok the first batch i made came out light and sweet and was boiling at 220 deg and the 2nd batch i made was at 220 deg and dark and maple tasting not to sweet and the 3rd one i made was like a carmel at 220 deg now im doing the 4th and almost all came right out of the tree the 2nd was boiled and than rested for a few days to add more sap does the sap have to sit around to get more flavor from it
AngryGuy70 Trow4 years ago
I find that's mostly the weather. as the season progresses your syrup will get darker.
steel57 Trow8 years ago
i'm sure if you check your boiling point of water everytime you begin you will see what I mean. water boils + - 3 degrees which could explain why your syrup is changeing color. sap should be used as soon as possible,as it will spoil in a short time. the warmer it gets,the shorter it's good. hope I helped
Here's another interesting fact. Commercial-scale syrup operations employ reverse osmosis, to remove some water from the sap, before boiling. This lowers the energy cost (and greenhouse gas emission) of firing the evaporator.
I wish I could afford that. Those are too cool and way to expensive for me.
ohio hooch7 years ago
I have 30 taps in and have collected about 40 gallons of sap to boil down this weekend in my outdoor pan. I had one good warm weather day so I tapped to catch the first run. t turned cold this week so the run stopped, but the weather calls for warmer weather next week. I think I will wait another week or so to tap the other 30. Great hobby! I plan to sell some this year in a family feed store.
In RI if I offer it for sale I can claim my yard as farm land. Save some bucks on property taxes. It is regulated and you are supposed to grade it before you sell it. That's a bummer. It's graded by color and sugar content.
omg you would make more than 300$ if you sell it in the south were i live and no maple syrup trees:(
t4kitty5 years ago
when can you do this/ can you do it in winter
You can only do it in the spring. Optimum weather is below freezing at night and above 40f during the day. Tap the north side of the tree if possible as that's where trunk pressure builds quickest, angle of sun and such. When the sap starts to look cloudy or the tree buds the season is over. It's a great thing to do with kids. I make several gallons every spring. When my son was 5 he wanted to do it and it cost me 80 bucks to make a gallon. I am a machinist / welder so the next year I built an evaporator from an old sink and a turkey fryer burner. I had the cost down to less than 15 a gallon but this year propane is more. You can do it almost any way you want, just boil it! American Indians used to put the sap in a hollow half of a log and drop hot stones it it. Just don't do it indoors, sticky steam makes a mess.
tomtortoise4 years ago
so i have a tree that i can get 3 taps into so do i put them on different elevations or around the tree in different spots? also would this one tree be enough to get any syrup from?(29 Inches)
shmacky267 years ago
Oh, and DO NOT freeze the sap to remove water. You will be throwing away a large chunk of sugar in the sap and also ruining the sap by freezing it. If you don't beleive me, split a batch down the middle, cook it say on a saturday while you freeze the other half. Then cook down the other half on Sunday after it sat frozen for a day. Then compare color and taste. You will find the first batch to be superior.
Sometimes a layer of sap freezes in the bucket overnight and I've always tosses that out. Even if some sap gets frozen first, real maple syrup is far superior in taste to any pancake syrup available. And homemade maply syrup tastes better than the real maple syrup commercially produced and sold for almost $10/pint. Or maybe I just think it tastes better because of all the time I put into making it!
steel578 years ago
if you use a tapered tap you don't need to seal the hole.the tree's soft tissue will expand and seal up the hole.have fun,this is a great spring project.
burgarl11 (author)  steel578 years ago
My holes were a little too big and i couldn't find taps due to the fact that i live in southwestern PA.
I do not have proper taps, but straight-line nylon tubing connectors work just fine. 3/8" id tubing connectors work with a 3/8" hole. Tap them in only far enough to seat firmly, and run a length of tubing down to an ice-cream bucket with a hole poked in the lid. Place a rock on top of the bucket to keep the wind from blowing it away.
Jawsh6 years ago
you could just buy a tree tapper and a bucket to hang it on for like, a dollar.
maxpower496 years ago
this will be great i live in New York and spring will be coming up soon i allways wanted to make my own maple syrup
LooseMoose6 years ago
I put the hole near the bottom of the bottle and hung them upside down. Then to collect the sap all you need to do is hold a bucket under the bottle and remove the bottle cap.
irolpat6 years ago
After trying to decifer the supplies needed from all the commercial site, finally stumbled upon Provides a kit with the basic supplies neeed. We were amazed at the amount of sap we collected (more than we could keep up with - ended up pouring a bunch into the garden), but the kids loved it.
I followed your instructions and viola I now have half gallon of tasty syrup. I love living in the North nice Job!
Noodle937 years ago
Shame there's no maple trees in Australia.
In eastern Canada and northeastern US you can also do the same with Birch trees. There are probably trees that produce a sweet sap in your springtime that can be tapped in a similar manner. Check your First Nations (aboriginal) traditional practices and you might find out something like this. By the way, there is absolutely NOTHING like the taste of the tiny sweet sting of maple sugar at the back of the throat. Early maple syrup is light and sweet and the higher grad. Later syrup is darker and tastes a little more like cane sugar. My grandfather had a sugar bush in the Eastern Townships of Québec so I am totally biased when it comes to how maple syrup is made. We sometimes had sugar on snow (taffy as some call it) in the heat of August when my grandmother would save large pans of clean snow and would boil up some syrup and drizzle it on the beds of snow in the pans. Best served with salty popcorn!
shmacky267 years ago
Ok, Let me clarify a few things for ya'll. There are different grades of maple syrup. At the start of the season the syrup will be lighter, then as the season progresses, the syrup will get darker, as it peaks, it then starts to get lighter again. Not any of these grades are better/worse than the other, they just have different applications as far as cooking and eating. Also, as far as filling the tap holes. This used to be done a lot, but in recent years, larger mapled producers have found that it is best not fill the holes and let them heal naturally. TAPS ALWAYS ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE TREE! You'll get way more sap. Lastly, do not freeze the sap until you have enough and then make a batch, cook the sap down immediately. Sap can go bad very quickly and if you store it more than a day or so in the fridge and then add it to fresh sap you'll ruin your batch. Word to your moms
shmacky267 years ago
I'm suprized that no one mentioned this, but for those of you that may find this part interesting, it's not gravity that makes the sap run, it actually the pressure on the inside of the tree pushing it out. That is why you need the freeze at night and the warm in the day. So whether you tap it 1 foot from the ground of 5 feet from the ground you will yeild the same. Your taphole works as a relief valve for the pressure. That's my 2 cents, spend it wisely...
GOwin7 years ago
Very informative! I wish you could add more information about those flat-bottom pans or flued-pans that some maple-syrup makers are using. I'm very curious about their construction and the physics (or science) behind it.
jethrow8157 years ago
For the best flow, drill your hole about 3 feet from the ground and 1 1/2- 2" deep. drill with a slight upward slope so the sap flows out correctly. Position the hole on the sunniest side of the tree. fresh maple syrup. one of the many benefits of living in northern Wisconsin ;)
Fresh maple syrup. one of the many benefits of living in St. Adolph, Montreal, Quebec, Canada :P and i lived in Saudi Arabia so i have had fresh dates.
ohio hooch7 years ago
Does anyone know how drought impacts sap yield. Also, is there any potential damage to trees tapped after a drought year. We are in severe drought in southern Ohio. Thanks!
steel578 years ago
making maple candy is just a matter of boiling the syrup a little while longer. I believe it's 12 degrees above the boiling point of water that the syrup will turn to sugar candy.pour it hot into candy molds and it will get fairly hard. good luck
Ferrite8 years ago
Looks really good. Do you know how to make maple sugar candy?
steel578 years ago
you really don't need to seal up the tap hole. after the tap is removed the tree will heal itself.just rotate your new hole next about 3to5 years you'll never know you ever tapped the tree.have fun
Trow8 years ago
I have dont it were it boiled like carmal and it is very sweet and very little maple taste how do i know when she is done all the way and sorry i used rock maple tree
steel57 Trow8 years ago
usually rock,sugar and red maple will produce good sap. Finished syrup is not very thick. check the boiling point of water the day your boiling,some days it maybe 210degrees.It changes due to barometric pressure. go 7 degrees above that days temp. be very careful when it's almost done because it will burn very fast. good luck
steel578 years ago
if you boil in a fairly shallow pan, you can boil off the water a lot faster.deep pans won't allow the water vapors to escape the pan.have fun 1 gal.
steel578 years ago
if your syrup turns a little sugary after it sits for a while,reboiling will bring it back to syrup,yummy on ice cream. have fun
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