How To Make Maple Syrup From Your Own Backyard

If you’re like me, you cannot wait for spring to come. Time to make Maple Syrup! The time the sap starts running is when it’s above 32ºF (0ºC) in the day and below 32ºF (0ºC) at night. The maple trees should be at least 8" in diameter in order to take sap from them. If the diameter is 20" or more, the tree can handle 2 spigots.

Read on to learn all about how to make maple syrup from your own maple trees, like we do on our farm.

Maple syrup in a glass bottle with a maple leaf on the side, wood background.

Materials and Tools Needed:

Spigots (taps):

Maple syrup tap with hook.

You can buy them online here.

Hose (drop line):

Maple syrup blue drop line.

Mesh or Screening

Mesh bags for filtering of maple sap.

Elastics

Rubber bands.

Note: There are different types of taps. One type is a spigot with a hook attached to hang a pail (pictured). Another type is a spigot that you slide a hose on to.

If using the spigot with a hook, you need a mesh or screening and elastic to cover the pail to avoid debris and flies getting into the pail.

Drill with 7/16” Drill Bit, Hammer, Stock Pots, Pails & Lids

Maple syrup tapping tools: drill, hammer, pails.

I use a 2.5 gallon pail to hang on the trees. 5 gallon when using a hose and then 5 gallon pails to collect the sap.

You can usually get these pails from a restaurant or deli for a good deal. The 5 gallon ones are available at hardware stores or online.

Cheesecloth

cheesecloth

Syrup Jars with Lids

Maple syrup glass jars with lids and shrink bands.

Candy Thermometer

candy thermometer

There are kits available as well that supply you with filters, spigots and drop lines.

Step #1. Drill a Hole into the Maple Tree and Attach Spigots

A pail hooked onto a maple tree tap, with mesh netting over top of it.
A pail hooked onto a maple tree with mesh netting.

Drill a hole into a maple tree with a 7/16" bit, approximately 1.25" deep. When drilling, drill the hole slightly upward into the tree. Hammer the spigot into the hole snugly. Attach either the hose or hang your pail onto the spigot. Put the screening over the top of the pail.

A hole in maple tree that is tapped.
A hole in maple tree that is tapped with a siphon.
A maple tree tapped with a siphon into a pail.
A siphon leading into a pail with green lid, snow on the ground.

PRO TIP: If using the pails with a lid, I drilled 2 holes into it so that I can place the hoses from 2 trees into it and still keep the pail covered. If you are hanging your pail onto the hook, secure it with wire as they could blow away in the wind.

A pail with 2 siphoning tubes on the leafy ground.

Step #2. Keep an Eye on the Flow of Sap

A pail hooked onto a maple tree tap, with mesh netting over top of it.

Check the pails every day or every other day. It depends on how fast the maple water is running.

Step #3. Collect the Maple Water

A pail and a large pot on concrete floor.

Once you have enough in each pail, start collecting the maple water. I fill 5 gallon pails. Return the pails to the trees for more maple water.

Step #4. Cook Down the Maple Water

Maple syrup furnace.
A wood fire started in a furnace.
A wood fire started in a furnace.

Start cooking the maple water. I use a wood furnace that we took out of our house. Pour the maple water into stock pots, screening the water with cheesecloth. (I always end up with a little debris so this will make sure it doesn’t get into the pot.) Place on top of the stove and start the fire. You will need to keep the fire going so make sure you have enough wood on hand.

A pail with cheese cloth over it.
A large pot on top of wood furnace.
A large pot on top of wood furnace.

PRO TIP: If you do not have a wood furnace, you can use a fire pit with a screen on top in order to place the stockpots on. I don’t recommend boiling down inside the house as it will take a very long time and the steam can ruin your cupboards.

Step #5. Move the Pot into the House for Further Cooking

A large pot of maple sap.
A large pot with maple sap in it.

Once the maple water boils down to approx 2" or 3“ deep, it is time to remove it from the outside fire. Bring it into the house and pour through a strainer with cheesecloth into a bowl or measuring cup and let it settle. There will be sediment on the bottom. Again with a strainer and cheesecloth, slowly pour it into a pot.

Maple syrup filtering into a measuring cup.

Step #6. Sterilize Jars & Lids

A clear glass bottle on white cutting board.

Have your jars and lids ready before the maple syrup is completely ready. Sterilize each jar and lid. I usually use a sterilizing powder from a wine-making store, but you can use other options.

Step #7. Boil Down to the Final Syrup Stage

Large pot of maple syrup boiling with candy thermometer and wooden spoon.

Start boiling again until the soft ball stage. Be careful, this can easily boil over so you need to watch it once it starts bubbling. Turn your stove down enough so that it keeps boiling but not rising over the pot. Once it gets to a soft ball stage, it is ready to put into syrup jars. You will notice the syrup getting thicker as you go.

PRO TIP: If you don’t have a candy thermometer for this step, put cold water into a glass cup. Drop a few drops of syrup into the cold water. If you can form a soft ball with the syrup using your fingers, it is ready.

Step #8. Fill the Jars

A bottle of maple syrup on a white cutting board.

Carefully pour the syrup into your jars, wipe edges and cover.

Ready to Use

Maple syrup in a glass bottle with a maple leaf on the side, wood background.
Maple syrup in a glass bottle with a maple leaf on the side, wood background.

You now have a wonderful tasty treat. You can use it for pancakes, baking or however you desire. There are recipes for making Maple Fudge and candy if you would like to try those.

Have fun!

Another tutorial you might enjoy:

How to Grill Jalapeño Poppers

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