The weather in Michigan is prime now for making maple syrup. This past week we had some beautiful days and I can’t think of anything better to do in nice weather than to cook over a campfire. It’s bringing me back to last summer with all of our campfires.
The easy part of making maple syrup is tapping the trees. Then you soon find out that buckets are FULL of sap that will yield a wee bit of liquid gold. Now, we admit this is our first venture and we are, by no means, experts but it was fun and tasty. Once we drilled the tree it was easy to tap the trees and lightly hammer the taps into the tree.
These taps are our favorite.
going out to collect sap
The kids loved participating in collecting sap. And we still had snow on the ground….but not for long!
our first tap in
all of the taps in place
We have puny sugar maples. They are not yet ready to tap…..maybe in, ohhhhh, 30 years. But we do have these 3 silver maples. The sugar is not as plentiful in silver maples but it still tastes good. We checked the trees about every 12 hours and the buckets were fulllllllll of sap! Lots of sap that even the kids enjoyed drinking.
Now, don’t be like us and try this venture over a gas grill stovetop, it won’t boil and you will sit around stirring sap until the cows come home (and we don’t have cows, so that tells you a lot).
Next we got smart, or smarter, and built a fire. Added a little more work but it does pay off….that sucker was boiling as long as I fed it all day long.
Lots of steam, lots of evaporation
The important thing is to keep that pot boiling and skim the foam. The fire can add a funny taste but I just kept skimming the foam off. I didn’t notice any undesirable taste with the syrup. One reason to make your maple syrup outside is that it takes around 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup….unless you have silver maples, then maybe even less. I wasn’t sure I really needed 39 gallons of steam (sugary steam) in my house so it’s best to cook outside. Once you see the below color and it has reduced significantly you should get a temperature gauge ready. Once the temperature is at about 210 I bring the syrup inside to strain and finish. It took us about 12-14 hours outside to boil. Inside, about an hour to get up to the ideal temperature of 219.1.
maple syrup getting close!
strain before last boil
We are still playing around with the straining process. I used a coffee filter but will probably use a cheesecloth next year. I found it was really hard to strain once it was the finished product at 219 degrees. After straining boil again until you reach 219. Then you can put in HOT prepared jars and hot lids. I get everything ready while doing the last boil and made SURE the jars were hot. Maple syrup is really easy to can! You can fill (leaving 1/2 inch headspace), apply lids, and tighten. Then just flip upside down for about 2 minutes, flip back and listen to the “pop” of the lids. Super easy!
The finished product, the light enhanced the ones in back
We maybe made a gallon this year but stay tuned for next years adventure!