Maple Syrup

Leo Voisine

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East Freeetown, Massachusetts
My son and I were sitting in the shade of a huge sugar maple tree Monday and talking about maple syrup. When he was on staff at Monadnock Bible Conference Camp in New Hampshire one of the staff members made Maple syrup every other year or so. Also next door to the camp was a maple syrup producer. We were reminiscing about the days gone by. Shawn is nearing 40, so he has some memories as well.

Well - we were talking about making some maple syrup. I never really gave it much thought, but he sparked an interest in me. I have about 6-8 Red Maple trees in my yard that I could tap. Thinking about trying this next February - March. Could be a fun project, and nice home made maple syrup is after all pretty doggone awesome.

Has anyone here ever made any maple syrup?

Maple Syrup jars.jpg
Maple Syrup.jpg
Maple Tree Taps small.jpg
Red Maple Leaves.jpg
The red leaves are fall foliage color.
 

Rob Keeble

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GTA Ontario Canada
I think thats a very cool idea Leo go for it.

I thought about doing that at the old place when i used to see the squirrels licking the sap from a scar they had created on a maple tree in the yard.

Keep in mind though 40:1 ratio of sap to syrup.

The one thing that has me puzzled is how to know when to call it done and stop the tapping. As i understand it there comes a point where the sap is not what u want for syrup. I have zero idea of how that stage is detected.

Find it hard to believe you guys have lived in North East all these years and not tried it.
For me its all an adventure and novelty.
 

Ryan Mooney

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I've never had enough maples but I did do birch syrup one year when I was a kid. It was pretty good but yeah it took a LOT of juice to make much syrup as Rob mentioned (I think Birch was even more reduction than maple if I recall right). I remember boiling it down part way in batches then combining those and boiling again (might have done a third round.. its been a long time so can't 100% recall).
 

Ted Calver

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A high school buddy with a farm and I used to make it. We never got much more than a pint apiece because we liked playing basketball in the hay mow and drinking hard cider better than tending a fire:D . You use a sap hydrometer to measure the sugar content of your sap, then use the rule of 87 to tell how many gallons of sap it will take to make a gallon of syrup i.e. Hygrometer reads 2.4% sugar then 87 divided by 2.4 equals 36.25 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup. If your sap sugar content is low you won't get enough yield to make it worth the effort unless you're just doing it for the fun of it.
 

Leo Voisine

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East Freeetown, Massachusetts
I am going to do it just for the fun of it. I am aware of the 40:1 ratio, but if I end up with a pint, quart or half gallon I will be thrilled.

The Red Maples have the shortest "season" so I need to be careful about that. Something about when the "flowers" start to appear?

It's not till Feb-March, so I have time to learn.
 

Frank Fusco

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Mountain Home, Arkansas
I am going to do it just for the fun of it. I am aware of the 40:1 ratio, but if I end up with a pint, quart or half gallon I will be thrilled.

The Red Maples have the shortest "season" so I need to be careful about that. Something about when the "flowers" start to appear?

It's not till Feb-March, so I have time to learn.

Definitely a fun project. And, you will be learning a bit about olde timey survival techniques.
 
Messages
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Location
Emporia, KS
I've never made any, but my grandfather had a small sugar bush in Western Michigan that he tapped for many years. They always brought some fresh syrup when they came to visit after the season ended. YUM!! Here are a couple pictures inside the sugar house. This may have been the last year they made syrup. Grandpa would have been 77 at the time.
 

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Ryan Mooney

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The sugar content could probably also be determined simply by the boiling temperature instead of with a hygrometer. I have no idea how the 2.4% sugar content relates to temperature.

Boil temperature doesn't really change until you get to a fairly high sugar concentration (source: make candy, brew beer, both of which I'm worried about boil temperature and duration).

Hydrometers are pretty cheap, you could also get a cheap refractometer they read a lot faster and take less liquid to measure (1-2 drops) but are somewhat less accurate.
 

Leo Voisine

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East Freeetown, Massachusetts
From what I have been learning, when the temperature gets to 7* higher than the boiling temperature of water, that is when it is done.

Do you have a source for a refractometer?

edit in - never mind - they are all over AMAZON - I should have looked before asking
 

Ryan Mooney

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Yeah there are a lot of them on Amazon, I don't really have any strong suggestions as to preferences.... I have used three which have somewhat varying accuracy - the $80 seemed slightly more accurate until I dropped it :( But it wasn't a lot less accurate than the two $25 ones we have (we == me and the brewery I moonlight at).

If you get a hydrometer make sure it can handle both the initial gravity range and the finished gravity range although you might need two because the final gravity is pretty high (that's likely easier done just by taking a sample and cooling it to see if its about the right texture - or you could calculate it from the initial gravity which a cheap wine hydrometer would do and the volume loss.... but that involves math so ... uuuugggghhh!! :rofl: ).

From reading around the theory with when to cut off the run-off is basically when the buds break out. What appears to be happening is that they start adding some chlorophyll to the sap which gives is a grassy/green flavor which some people don't like. I'd be tempted to keep collecting a bit past that but keep it as a separate "batch" just to see how it tastes (but then I'm kinda that way :D).

There might be some other interesting trees you could tap locally as well; some of them sound interesting: https://practicalselfreliance.com/trees-species-tap-syrup/
 
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