How to Make Candy From Trees




About: Measure twice and cut once.

This is 100% all natural way of making candy from trees!

Step 1: Quick Background

I grew up in Northern Vermont, and gathering/making Maple Syrup was something my family did every year.  

Better known as "sugaring," Maple Syrup production takes place in Northeast USA and Canada when the winter begins to turn into Spring.  The key is finding weather that fluctuates between freezing and thawing temperatures - which is what makes the sap flow in trees.  

Vermont's sugaring weather usually begins sometime around the beginning of March and lasts an average of six weeks.  

The method of gathering the sap can be drastically different between producers.  Some high production "sugar shacks" have 100's or 1000s of trees and produce many gallons of maple syrup, while others may just have a few dozen taps and a propane heater.

No matter what methodology suits your needs, the basic steps remain the same for all sugar makers - collect sap from trees (native maple trees which include the Sugar Maple which is best overall {contains about 3% sugar whereas other Maple trees contain half to two-thirds as much}, the Silver Maple, the Red Maple, and the Ash Leafed Maple), removal of water through boiling.  Thats it! Nothing is added or removed besides the water!

Click here for a great website about Maple Syrup and Vermont.     

**The pictures within this Instructable are from a combination of Maple Syrup websites, friends and family, and my own Sugaring adventures. 

**Be careful.  This Instructable deals with sharp objects, fire, and boiling liquid. 

Step 2: The Essentials

The tools needed:
  • A way of collecting sap (buckets or tubing)
  • Paper filters 
  • A way of boiling down sap (Sugar Arch, Propane Heaters, Improvisation)
  • A hydrometer - tool used to check the proper sugar content 
  • Wool cone Filter
  • Pots and more pots
  • A candy thermometer and molds
  • Lots of time and Patience

**This is going to be a quick and easy introduction to Maple Syrup production.  If you are really interested in producing your own I suggest you learn from someone who has done it or hit the books (Backyard Sugarin' - third edition - by Rink Mann is a good one)

Step 3: Gather

Pick your method of gathering (I've always done backyard sugaring and used simple galvanized buckets and sprouts).

After you identify the correct maple trees (see step 1) use a 7/16 inch bit to drill a hole roughly 1-1/2 inches into good wood, which equates to around 2-1/2 inches if drilling through heavy bark.  Drill with a slight upward angle so the sap flows out a little easier and make sure the hole is clean of wood shavings (on days the sap is running you will immediately see it flowing from the tree).  

When storing the sap, make sure that it is in a cool place and not sitting around for too long because it can spoil.

This is where the time factor sets in.  It takes roughly 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup (and this is accomplished through lots and lots of boiling).

Step 4: Boil

Choose your method of fire and start boiling your sap!

The bigger the pan the easier it is to boil off all that water content from the sap (this is why many people choose to buy evaporators).  

Essential tool: Time

Step 5: Boil Some More

Once the sap starts to resemble Maple Syrup (Amber in color - the lighter it is the higher the grade) you are getting close!

At this stage, move the sap to a smaller boiler (such as a pot over a propane stove) and watch it very carefully.  

You've almost just made Maple Syrup!  To ensure that you have 100% all natural Maple Syrup, use a Hydrometer (tool used for checking the proper sugar density or sugar content) which is calibrated to float in a cup of syrup and balance at a certain point when the density of the syrup is just right.  You know you are close when the syrup starts to foam up quickly (if you dip a spatula into the batch and the syrup comes off in gooey sheets rather than drops, you're practically there).     

After the Syrup reaches the correct density (as determined by the Hydrometer), remove it from its heat source and filter it through a wool filter to remove "Sugar Sand" (natural, harmless material made of minerals from the Maple Tree).

At this point you can either can your syrup or....make Candy!!!

Step 6: Make Some Candy!

This step can get very messy (don't let the syrup boil over....)
  • Bring a deep pan of water to a boil and record the temperature, this will be important for later.
  • Empty out the water and add syrup - try to use a deep pan because the syrup will foam up considerably and make a huge mess if it boils over the lid of the pot (sugaring is usually done outside anyways) 
  • Boil over high heat without stirring until the temperature of the boiling syrup reaches a point that is 32 degrees F above the boiling point of the water (this was the purpose of finding the boiling point of the water).  Don't let the syrup cook for too long or it will burn, which is not a good thing (especially for how long it took to make).
  • Remove from heat and let it cool naturally (roughly until the temperature drops to around the boiling point of water).  
  • Stir the syrup evenly until it begins to lose its gloss and become no- transparent.  This is the tricky part and takes a lot of practice to learn the precise moment to pour off - if you stir the syrup for too long it will harden in the pan, and if you don't stir long enough, the sugar may not set up properly in the molds
  • Pour the syrup into your molds (I just used mini muffin pans)
  • Let it cool.  Remove from the molds and place on cooling surface for a few hours.  

Step 7: Eat Some Candy

Reward yourself from all that hard work and eat some candy!

**The second picture shows what it would look like if you used nice forms (but lets face it, presentation isn't everything as long as it tastes good).  

Hope you enjoyed this instructable.  If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them.



    • Weaving Challenge

      Weaving Challenge
    • Organization Contest

      Organization Contest
    • Pie Contest

      Pie Contest

    12 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This was really interesting to read. Even if I can't do this in Chicago, I enjoyed learning how it is done. Thanks!

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Glad you liked it! Even if you can't make it, you should try some authentic maple candy if you ever get the opportunity.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Reminded me quite a bit of the times we used to sugar back home. Very informative!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Nice Instructable!
    I grew up in Northern Vermont too, and had thought that this might be an interesting Instructable for the contest. My grandparents had a big property in Southern VT, and every year we would pile into the car to help them gather the sap, and make the syrup. The air around the sugar house always smelled absolutely amazing.
    Good luck in the contest!

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Boiling sap/syrup is one of my favorite smells. I hope this Instructable brought back some fond memories!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I remember reading about some kind of candy made from maple trees in a book I read when I was seven (Little House on the Prairie, I believe)... But I never knew how it was actually made.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Its fairly easy, just takes a very long time. Hope you enjoyed learning about the process!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    In washington we have Big Leaf Maples everywhere. (Acer Macrophyllum). I have a few in my yard and tasted the sap which was running and it wasn't tasty at all. So I guess you really need to have a Sugar Maple.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Sugar Maples do have the highest sugar content (around 3%), but I believe that I once read that Big Leaf Maples have a high sugar content as well except the flavor is different.