Teva Tip 8 - Homemade Maple Syrup
It is that time of the year again in the north and the northeastern parts of the United States – TIME TO MAKE MAPLE SYRUP.
And, if you have never had the pleasure of eating maple syrup made at home, you are in for a real treat. Homemade maple syrup tastes 100 times better than even the best, 100%, pure maple syrup you can buy at a store.
First, you'll need a maple tree.
Just about any kind of maple will work except for the ornamental and Japanese maples. Once you tap your tree, be sure the sap that comes out is clear in color and not milky. If the sap is milky, you cannot use it. Sugar maple, silver maple, rock maple and Norway maple are some of the many possibilities. And, the tree you select should have a trunk no less than a foot in diameter.
To tap the tree, you will need a drill with a ¼ or 5/16 bit.
Select a spot on the south or west side of you tree and drill an inch-deep hole anywhere from 3 – 5 feet from the ground (this makes it easier to empty your sap buckets). You can purchase commercial taps at home and garden centers or at hardware stores. These are small metal cones that come with a hook. Slide the hook onto the tap and gently tap it into your hole. Hang a clean plastic or metal bucket on the hook and position it so that the sap drips into it. If you tap too hard, the bark under the tap will crack and some of the sap will leak through it. But, if you do not place the tap firmly in the hole, the bucket will fall when it fills with sap. It is probably better to tap too hard rather than too softly until you get the hang of it. Cover each bucket with a plastic bag to keep out rainwater.
When the sap is flowing fast, a five-gallon bucket will fill up overnight or within two days. It is important to check your buckets every morning or
evening to be sure they are not ready to overflow. It is also a good idea to check to make sure the plastic covering is still in place and the buckets are still positioned to catch the dripping sap.
When you have collected your sap, pour it through a strainer to remove pieces of bark or insects that might have fallen into the bucket. Pour into a
large pot and place it on top of your stove (or over an outdoor fire if you wish).
Heat until the sap begins to evaporate but do not bring to a boil. Nearly all of the sap is water that must evaporate before there is a concentration of maple sugars. Maple sap contains 40 times as much water as sugar which means that you need 40 quarts (10 gallons) of sap to make one quart of maple syrup.
Keep evaporating the sap until it begins to turn a yellow-brown color and start to thicken. Be very careful not to burn the sap. When you reach
the point where there is little sap left in your pot, stay beside the stove and stir it until it reaches the consistency you desire. When finished, place your homemade maple syrup in a container and
refrigerate. Use it as you would use any store-bought product. Have fun.