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.
Materials and Tools Needed:
Hose (drop line):
You can buy them online here.
Mesh or Screening
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
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.
Syrup Jars with Lids
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
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.
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.
Step #2. Keep an Eye on the Flow of Sap
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
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
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.
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
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.
Step #6. Sterilize Jars & Lids
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
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
Carefully pour the syrup into your jars, wipe edges and cover.
Ready to Use
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. Or you can give some of our maple syrup recipes a try:
Another tutorial you might enjoy:
Living on a farm like I have for almost 40 years means there is always something to do year round. Winter is long but Christmas, crafts, sewing and baking keep me quite occupied. Early spring to fall is the time I enjoy most. Living on a farm gives you plenty of room for gardens and orchards, reaping what you sow. I believe that if we use or eat something and I can make or grow it, I’m going to!