Monday, February 21, 2011

The Maple Syrup Post

We Have Syrup!

After gathering the first large batch of maple sap, we had roughly 13 gallons of sap. It was amazing to walk through the woods, emptying gallon jugs of sap into our collection pails. Some of the trees had produced more than a gallon overnight and were starting to trickle out the tops. I couldn't wait to get home to start boiling! Unfortunately I was busy the rest of the day so it wasn't until early the next morning that I lit the fire in the firepit and started heating the sap.

The sun was shining and it was a comfortable 55º or so, and I found myself obsessing over the boil. I started by sitting on a log, and quickly found that this was not only uncomfortable, it also meant I was stuck in one spot and when the wind would shift and the smoke would sweep past me there was little I could do. It wasn't long before I came up with an idea to make myself more comfortable. I lined our yard cart with a cardboard box, dropped one of the long sides and brought a blanket and pillow and made myself a mobile nest! It was probably pretty funny to see, but I was super comfortable and cozy, and when the wind would shift I could just wheel myself to the other side of the fire.

After several hours I had added roughly six gallons of the total sap and decided this would be a fine first batch which theoretically would give us slightly more than two cups of finished syrup (at 2% sugar content). I skimmed the foam from the top of the sap and had to diligently watch for blowing debris since the wind was relentless, gusting around 30mph. I was so worried that a rogue pine needle would alter the taste of the finished product, so I was like a crazy person any time the wind picked up.

When the sun went down I let things cool and packed up the sap, now roughly 1.5 gallons, and refrigerated it in the house. I had hoped to add the other seven gallons to the mix the next day, but the snow hit and I had no choice but to hold off boiling the rest.

This morning, though, I was concerned the sap would pick up an off taste from being in the refrigerator so I decided to finish the batch in the house on the stove. It wasn't long after I began smelling the sweet maple scent throughout the house that I looked down and found a friend on my shoulder. A Box Elder Bug! How funny. I had to wonder if he was drawn out of hibernation by the smell of the maple sap since box elder trees are closely related to sugar maples... It's startling to find bugs this time of year, but it's also a welcome sight since they indicate spring's inevitable approach.

After bringing the boil to roughly 219.5º I quickly filtered and refiltered the finished product to eliminate sugar sand and impurities. I then poured the syrup into sterilized and warmed Le Parfait jars and that was that! What an adventure! Our finished total was roughly two and a quarter cups, and the taste?

Here are some geeky ratios to describe the taste of this stuff...

pole syrup : store bought maple syrup
store bought maple syrup : homemade maple syrup

In short? AMAZING.


  1. We made maple syrup for the first time this year. Lots of work but well worth it.
    We have hundreds of box elder bugs in our house. Not as exciting as the syrup.

  2. @kpannabeckerYeah, we have a pretty intense box elder bug infestation as well. They don't do anything bad, really, they're just startling to find crawling around. Our cat is definitely amused.

  3. Beautiful. It is such an amazing process, I'm am in awe every year when we do it.

    LOVE those jars, I have a box or two of them in the basement, must dig them out to jar up some syrup in them.

    And the taste - out of this world. So much better than store bought maple syrup. You can almost taste the love and thoughtfulness :)