Friday, March 28, 2014

Homemade Maple Syrup from our Front Yard Tree

As a true lover of pure maple syrup, I've always loved Vermont, it's sugar houses and all of their sweet goodness. My husband and I had even toyed with the idea of buying our own Sugar Bush farm in Vermont years ago, but knowing how much I hate bitter cold winters, we decided against it.
Either way, I've always wanted to make my own maple syrup and began tapping trees in our yard years ago, but without proper knowledge of the process, never followed through. This year is different!

Did you know you can tap any broadleaf tree and turn the sap into syrup? Not all syrups will taste as yummy as Maple Syrup or produce as much sap, but you never know if you will like it until you try. We are very lucky that we have 2 Sugar Maple trees in our front yard. Sugar Maples have the most sugar content and sap flows rather freely when the nights are below freezing and the days are warmer.

I had my husband drill a hole in the two trees. In one, I put a tap that I purchased online and the other I put a silicone tube in with the ends of both inserted into clean gallon jugs.

Each tree on a warm day has been producing about 2 gallons. 2 gallons of sap makes almost 8 oz of syrup.

After collecting a gallon of sap I pour it through a dish rag covered strainer in order to filter out any dirt or debris. I then bring the sap to boil and evaporate as much water as possible. This takes a long time and by the time most of the water is evaporated, another gallon of sap has been produced. I add this sap to the pot and continue to boil, stirring occasionally. The sap will start to darken and smell and taste sweet.
Technically you want to boil the syrup until it is 7 degrees hotter than the temperature to boil water, usually 212 degrees. Since I don't have a candy thermometer, I use the spoon test method. After noticing the color is close to what you want and stirring it with a long spoon or spatula, hold the spoon up and see if the syrup drips off or sticks to the spoon. If it begins to stick or apron off the spoon it is ready to be turned off. You do not want to go to far or what you will have after it cools is maple rock candy.

Cool the syrup a little and then filter it again through a funnel with a coffee filter. It will not go through quickly and you don't want to rush it or the product will be cloudy and full of sugar sand.

Voila!!! You have delicious pure maple syrup that you made yourself!

Notes :
There is a lot of steam when you boil the sap, which is why most people prefer to begin the process outside.

Also, it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup

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