How To Make Your Own Maple Syrup
There's just something about tapping your own trees and making your own maple syrup that makes you feel good! Maybe it's the feeling of getting something back from your land, the pride of doing it yourself, or just having some personal gifts that you can share with family and friends alike. Not to mention, saving yourself some serious cash!
Late winter, early spring is the time to start collecting sap. In general, when it's above 35-40ish degrees during the day, and below 32 at night. The more extreme or both, the more the pressure in the maple trees will cause the sap to run. Most local hardware stores have all you need to get started. Taps, buckets, depending on how elaborate you want to get, hoses, screens, just ask the sales clerk it you aren't sure what would be best for your set-up.
Make sure you are tapping the right trees, sugar maples are the best, they have the highest sugar content which is what you're after, go online and look at some pics if you aren't sure. You may be surprised at how much sap can run from a single tap. In other words, check your collection bucket at least once a day. I store mine in a series of 5 gallon buckets until Im ready to boil it down.
Keep in mind it takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, so depending on your ambitions, you may want to have a set-up outside to boil off a lot. I find a turkey fryer set-up with a lobster pot does the trick quite nicely.
Have a thermometer handy, depending on the elevation where you are, just remember, finished syrup always boils at 7 degrees Fahrenheit above the boiling temperature of water. You will certainly see the density get more syrup like as the temp rises. Once you get to about 215 degrees you have to pay closer attention to the heat and the temperature as you are now at the finishing stage and once you hit the 7 degrees above the boiling temperature of water you can now remove from the heat, filter the finished product, let cool, and enjoy!
Congrats! You just made your own amber gold...maple syrup!