Sugaring: From Sap to Syrup

Our morning began with the sunrise. Before that first cup of coffee we were outside setting a fire in our makeshift outdoor wood stove to boil down sap. It’s been two weeks since we tapped 12 Maple trees. We collected 25 gallons of sap, filling every jug, pot and container we could find.

Our wood stove consisted of eight cinder blocks stacked two high and topped with six lengths of re bar on which to rest the pans. The two pans gave us a total of 3.43 square feet of cooking surface.

Cooking down the sap

A metal coffee can with holes drilled on either side sits on the corner of the pans. Sap poured into the coffee can warms before trickling into the boiling pans of sap. This allowed us to add fresh sap without cooling the sap and interfering with the evaporation process.

Adding Maple Sap

By 4:30 p.m. the 25 gallons of sap had been reduced enough to fill one pan.

Down to one pan in the boil

Another half-hour or so and our 25 gallons of sap had boiled down to less than a gallon. We transferred the sap into a stock pot, pouring it through a colander lined with cheese cloth to filter out ash and debris before heading indoors to finish the boil down.

Filtering the almost syrup

Before beginning the final boil down, I ran the sap through another filter of cheese cloth and paper towel to catch the finest of debris particles.

Another half-hour of cooking and the sap hit 219 degrees, the syrup point, a few moments after snapping this picture. Just before pulling the pot off the heat, the boil was up to the edges of the pot!

Finishing off the boil down inside

Our 25 gallons of sap yielded 72 ounces, over a half-gallon of pure Maine Maple Syrup.

We’ll know if the effort was worth it when we test it out on pancakes in the morning!

The finished maple syrup!

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5 Responses to Sugaring: From Sap to Syrup

  1. Susan Isenberg says:

    Hey Susan,
    This is the best post I have seen on small scale syrup making. I am wondering how the syrup tasted on your pancakes.

    I have been following along with you, catching a glimpse of life there in Maine because we have property way up north Maine and being from southern Alabama I have a big learning curve for moving that far north.

    I especially look forward to updated posts on your greenhouse, gardening, and wildlife there.

    Thanks for sharing your life with us.


  2. Pat says:

    Great blog, you’ve explained the process perfectly. I’m tapping for the first time starting next month and needed to have a few things clarified with the cook down process, thanks.

  3. Wendy says:

    Awesome post! We will be trying this. Are the roasting pans Teflon coated? Or does this not matter?

    • Susan says:

      No it’s not coated. This pan is aluminum, but we’ve switched to stainless steel for easier cleaning and better heat transfer.

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