Over the last few years our family has started a new tradition of tapping maple trees and boiling down the sap to make syrup. Yup! It's just the easy. You tap the trees with a little metal piece that goes into the tree (doesn't harm the tree) and has a spout on it so you can attach another piece that holds a sap sack. The sapping time of year is spring time when the weather is above freezing during the day and below freezing at night. This allows the sap to go up and down the tree allowing us to collect the sap!
It takes about 17 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup! The trees that have the highest sugar content in their sap are Sugar Maple trees. You can use any type of maple tree such as a sugar maple, red maple, or black maple. The higher the sugar content in the sap, the less you need to make the tasty syrup! Once you have your gallons and gallons of sap the next part is easy. Get a big pot and boil it! The sap season usually lasts from a week to a couple weeks depending on weather, and when the frogs start croaking the season is over! The sap will turn bitter and your syrup will not taste good.
After the hours and hours of boiling all the sap, it will come to about 212 degrees Fahrenheit. This means you're almost there! You almost have amazingly delicious homemade maple syrup! Our sap last year was syrup around 217 degrees. Once it's up to temp you use your handy dandy hydrometer and check the specific gravity. The hydrometer will float to the syrup line and then it's time to filter! We pass ours through a cloth filter to remove the sugar sand which collects in the bottom of the syrup.
Almost there! After filtering the syrup needs to be brought back up to 200 degrees and then you can bottle it. We use standard mason jars and sterilize them ahead. Once your syrup is back up to temp the liquid gold can be put in your jars and stored for amazingness through the rest of the year! Like this maple cupcake I made. Nothing can beat the taste of real maple syrup, and there's just something about it when it comes from the trees in your own backyard.
We have two giant trees in our yard with two taps on each tree. Last year we bottled 13 pints of syrup. AMAZING! Hopefully this will be a great year again. My parents have been tapping the trees up at the cabin for the past couple years. Started with 10 taps and now we are up to 30! When the sap gets running we all go to the cabin and help boil. Last year we got 4 gallons, yes gallons, of syrup!
If you are looking to start your own little syrup factory I highly suggest Anderson's Maple Syrup site www.andersonsmaplesyrup.com They have all the supplies you will need and great directions on how to get started. I love our family tradition of making syrup! The sap continues to run at our house and will hopefully start soon at the cabin. Bring on the maple syrup!