Every year, I can’t wait for the SAP season ... it happens at the end of winter, when I start to get tired of the cold :-P … Making your own maple syrup ! What a great way to end the winter :-)
Here are the process step by step for making your own syrup
You can also have a look how a made my sugarshack :
Step 1: Identify Maple Trees
Sap come from many different trees … of course, if you want to make maple syrup, you need to tap maple trees. Sometimes, it can be hard to identify trees during winter … That’s why I encourage you to identify maple trees during fall. Maple trees belong to the genus Acer, and there are over 100 species of maple trees. Naturally, the one with the most percentage of sugar in the sap is sugar maple (Acer saccharum).
A great link below to help you find the right tree
Don’t worries, If you tap other kind of maple trees, it will still give you good sap for making syrup … the percentage of sugar in water may be less and the taste may change a little bit, but it will still be good !
Step 2: Tapping the Trees
The equipment you’ll need is quite simple …
- Buckets (Food grade)
- Drill (making the hole in the tree)
You can find different kind of spile in the market … (Material, size, shape) … This year, I decided to buy 5/16’’(plastic) spiles instead of my old school 3/8’’ (see picture) … this should hurt less the tree due to its small diameter. According to my new spile, the hole diameter needed was 5/16’’ and maximum 1 3/4’’ depth . Make sure when you drill the hole that the wood coming out as a white appearance … That will ensure the portion of the tree drill was healthy.
Step 3: Collecting SAP
Maple sap is a clear fluid and resembles to water. According
to my experience, the best temperature sap flowing is between -4°C at night and +4°C during the day … You’ll notice also that the amount of sap collected will not be equal between each tree and will vary between days. When the flow is about one drip per second, you can say that’s a good sap day ! :-D
Step 4: Storing the SAP
When sap is flowing, collect the sap daily. Pour the sap from the bucket into a storage container. I used a 200 liters container (use only food grade container) … The sap should be stored in a cold environment and used within 7 days. (to avoid possible bacteria growth). Since I’ll use gravity to feed the water slowly in my boiling pans, my container needed to be located at a higher point.
Step 5: Boiling
It takes 40 parts maple sap to make 1 part maple syrup.
Because of the large quantity of steam generated by boiling sap, it is not recommended to boil indoors. In my small sugar shack, there’s doors opening in the roof acting as exhaust for the steam generated. I have custom made pans to fit my wood stove including a thermometer specially for maple syrup. My 2 pans are connected together. It give me more surfaces to boiled at the beginning and it allow me to finished the syrup in one pan.
Firstly, I fully open the sap valve from my container and fill the 2 pans with about 3’’ of Sap.
When the sap begin to boiled, I adjust my thermometer to 100°C. (note that water boiled at different temperature according to the atmospheric pressure.) If you’re not equipped with and adjustable thermometer, note carefully at what temperature your water begin to boiled. To have syrup, the temperature must be 4°C higher. On my thermometer this 4° is set to number 7 (don’t ask me why hehe) … some other equipment are much more precise (hygrometer)
When sap boiled, I slightly open the container valve to keep the same level of sap in the pans. Depending the strength of fire, your sap can evaporate faster sometime, so always keep a look to the sap level in your pans.
Once you’re getting tired of filling up fire stove with wood and spend time looking at your boiling pans, (It’s a long process) you can stop the sap entry and prepare yourself to bring your hard work to final stage.
When the level of sap in the 2 pans slowly drop to 2 inch., it was time for me to transfer all the preparation in the finishing pan. (the one with the thermometer)
At this point, keep your eyes on the thermometer … because the syrup temperature can come quickly … (and after 12 hours of work, you don’t want to miss that slot)
I end up with 5 liter of syrup … so I boiled around 200 liters of sap. (40:1 ratio)
Step 6: Filtering the Syrup
Filtering maple syrup, is an important process that improves the clarity, taste and color. The first thing you need to do when filtering maple syrup is to make sure that it is hot ! Yes, directly off the evaporator. I used a cheesecloth filter (made for maple syrup) … You can use also a paper type pre-filter before filtering through the main filter … I filtered mine twice … and I could repeat the process 3 to 4 times … Next year … always place for improvement !
Clean your filter is also important between each filtering … Forsee a simple support to hang your cheesecloth over a pan to collect the syrup.
Step 7: Bottle Your Syrup
The last and most satisfying part of the process … Bottle up !
To make it even more fun, I’ve made special sticker with a picture of my sugar shack on it … cute ;p
Step 8: Cleaning Up !
Naturally, don’t forget to clean up every tools and equipment
… We are talking about sugar here … don’t wait too much ... ;-p ... or you’ll have a sticky time !
Enjoy your own maple syrup !