Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Making Maple Syrup

After doing some research, and going on a maple syrup field trip, we decided to try tapping our own maple trees.  We have no real 'maple syruping' supplies so we purchased items we thought 'might' work at Menards and constructed our own.

This hole was drilled a little larger than the taps we made, so a lot of sap leaked out of the tree overnight.  The King found an alternate tap that fit the hole better so we won't lose as much sap.  This tree has been producing about two gallons of sap in a 24 hour period.

This is our old maple tree and because it is so large, we were able to tap it three times.  However, because it is old, it is not producing as much sap.  I think we have gotten about two gallons out of it in an entire week.

Being a homeschool mom, I had to make our syruping into a school lesson.  First, we had to figure out the diameter of trees.  A tree needs to be at least 10" in diameter to support one tap.  Diameter can be found by the circumference of the tree (at about 4½ feet from the ground) divided by pi (3.14).  

Next, I had them figure out how much syrup we would get from our 2½ gallons of sap.  The ratio is 40:1, so it was very easy for them to figure out the final amount.

The sap looks a lot like water coming out of the tree.  Here it is just beginning to boil.

Boiling after two hours.  Beginning to reduce and turn color.

It is a very steamy process.  I have a vented range hood and this is how it looked most of the time running on high.  I had to keep wiping it down to keep the condensation from dripping into the syrup.  One positive point:  My range hood hasn't been this clean since I purchased it.  We definitely need to make maple syrup once a year just for the benefit of a good cleaning.

This is after four hours of boiling.  Getting darker.

When it had reduced down to about 3-4 cups, I put transferred it over to a sauce pan.  This was the point I could not leave it. When we went on the field trip, the guide told us how quickly it could boil over at the end.  I didn't use a thermometer or a hydrometer to see when it was truly done.  I figured if Native Americans could make maple syrup without those items I could too.  Once the syrup started foaming uncontrollably, I turned it off.  The rules say that once the syrup is 7° over boiling, it is done.  My rules say when it gets really foamy, it's done.  

Here is our final product.  We ended up with 2 cups of syrup, making our ratio 20:1.  All the kids thought it was the greatest thing to make 'homemade' syrup from our own trees.  Even the oldest two, who prefer maple flavored corn syrup, thought it tasted mighty good.  When we finished, one of the younger ones said, "That really tastes like maple syrup!"  Hmm...I wonder why? 


  1. Yay! What a fun project! I would totally do (tapping trees, boiling sap) that too...

  2. What an AWESOME lesson. Can you homeschool me?

    mama to 7
    one homemade and 6 adopted

  3. This is great. I always wanted to know how to catch syrup. you have a nice blog!

  4. "When it's foamy it's done" it!

    What a great lesson for the kids and for us adults out here too. I bet it was wonderful syrup too.


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