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Anyone out there make their own maple syrup? I will make may first attempt at it this year. I have probably over 4 dozen large maple trees on my land plus another few dozen smaller trees. I will try to document my progress as I go along. Right now I need the correct gear for it. Anyone have any recommendations for supplies? If you have tried this before please post your experience.
 

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My brother and I did it with about 10 or so trees on his property. It took a lot of sap and a lot of time to produce not much syrup. We knew that going in though. Your biggest expense I suspect will be a container to boil the sap in. We used the biggest pot he had and it wasn't enough. We also did it on a fire outside and ash got in more that we would have liked. It went through a strainer, but there were still specks in the finished product. If you do it inside, the last thing you want is a boil over. You'll probably have to remodel the kitchen. In the end, it was worth it as the finished product was top notch.
 

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Isn't it 30-40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup? The stuff they sell at mega-mart is as thin as water, I bet the home made syrup is a true delicacy.
 

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I haven't personally tried this, but a friend told me that if you freeze the sap first, it will result in a "core" of sap within the ice which can be chipped off leaving reduced volume of water to be boiled off. He said it was a lot faster.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Isn't it 30-40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup? The stuff they sell at mega-mart is as thin as water, I bet the home made syrup is a true delicacy.
A coworker of mine's family makes their own syrup. It is fantastic. She'll sell a 1 quart mason jar for $7. You could easily get $10 a jar. The 40 to 1ratio is what I've always heard.
 

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I plan on trying again this year. I made a batch lastyear but I let it cook down too far and it got a little scorched. Had kind of a licorice taste. Had to use boxelder sap. Sugar maples are kind of rare on the plains.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I did not know you could use boxelders also. Maybe I won't clear all of them off my land after all.
 

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Warning about doing it in the kitchen...that is a lot of water that has to be evaporated....say goodbye to wall paper...
Black Birch also known as Sweet Birch also makes a wonderful syrup.
 

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I tap maples.

Last year was our first time doing it.

Yesterday I went out and tapped one maple and one birch, just to monitor the flow.

I have 30 taps.
 

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oh this sounds fun!! i'll have to look into it some more. anyone have any useful websites or book recommendations? :thumb:
 

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Warning about doing it in the kitchen...that is a lot of water that has to be evaporated....say goodbye to wall paper...
Black Birch also known as Sweet Birch also makes a wonderful syrup.
Yes; NEVER do it in the kitchen! There is a very good reason all the oldtimers did it outside over a big bonfire.
 

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great thread. I have about a dozen on my property, I think I am going to have to try. can you make it in a 55 gallon drum?
They use a big flat pan like a cake pan only bigger so there is only about 2" of sap in the pan. I used a big cake pan. So you don't have to keep adding sap take a coffee can and punch a small hole in it and place it so it will drip into the pan so as the sap boils away the can refills the pan.
 

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Experimenting with the maple syrup process for the first time this year.

I found what I thought was a pretty good price on the maple syrup tree
taps (called "spiles", as I found out) from these guys:

$1.90 for the larger stainless steel spouts (7/16" hole drilled in tree)
http://www.mapleguys.com/index.php?item=284&ret=http://www.mapleguys.com/index.php?page=5&all=yes

and $2.40 for the smaller aluminum versions (5/16" drilled hole)
http://www.mapleguys.com/index.php?item=207&ret=http://www.mapleguys.com/index.php?page=5&all=yes

Either one seems well built and serves the intended function.

I've just cut a hole in the side of plastic jugs and jam those directly
on to the taps. Seems to work ok, and I haven't gotten a lot of
bugs and crud in the sap since I can leave the lids on the jugs.

From what I've read...

- As mentioned, don't do your boiling in the house. The steam will carry
off some of the sugar and deposit a sticky mess all around your kitchen.
Maybe once you get it boiled down close to a final product you can
move the operation to your kitchen stove and use the finer heat controls
there to put the final touches on the syrup.

- Technically metal pipe will work. I suspect cast iron may deposit rust
in your syrup though. Don't know if zinc will leach off zinc coated gas
pipe. You can also use copper, but make sure to remove the spout
when you're done collecting sap, or the copper pipe can poison the tree.

- You can make your own wodden taps/spouts/spiles. Any small branch
that has a soft center core that can be pushed out to form a tube will do.

- I had read the boil-down ratio was closer to 60:1, but many of you say
40:1, so I'll start there and see how it goes.

- Sample the syrup with a candy thermometer. When the syrup boils
at a temperature that's 7 degrees higher than boiling water, its done.
Note that you'll need to "benchmark" your boiling water temperature
first. 212 degrees is the standard answer, but that varies based on
your elevation, and relative accuracy of your thermometer.

- You'll want to strain the syrup after you're done. They make special
filters for that, but I was too cheap to buy them for this first-time
experiment. They say that coffee filters will NOT work. The syrup
is too thick. Makes we wonder though if you couldn't filter the raw
sap through a coffe filter before you start boiling. That's what I'm gonna
try.

- Don't collect the syrup too long into the spring. If the leaves start
to bud while you're still collecting, the syrup will taste "buddy",
whatever that means. Not good though.

- The prime time for collecting is when the temperatures are fluxuating
between above freezing during the day and below freezing at night.

That's about all I know. I've been collecting from my two soft maple
trees for a couple of weeks. I've got about two gallons of sap frozen
in the freezer, and a wife who wants to know when I'm going to get
that junk out of there. OK, so its a real small scale operation at this
point, and I'll end up with less than a cup of syrup. Still want to go
through the learning process though.
 

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Just don't boil it in the the kitchen. My wife made me wash the walls.What a mess. So then I move it all to the barn, I mean man cave. Using the propane clam boiler ,Coleman stoves works too.A lot of work but fun out in the barn with my buds, tasting the maple Royal, some like the maple Jack better. Ha! what a hoot. We might have enough for a pan cake tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Experimenting with the maple syrup process for the first time this year.

I found what I thought was a pretty good price on the maple syrup tree
taps (called "spiles", as I found out) from these guys:

$1.90 for the larger stainless steel spouts (7/16" hole drilled in tree)
http://www.mapleguys.com/index.php?item=284&ret=http://www.mapleguys.com/index.php?page=5&all=yes

and $2.40 for the smaller aluminum versions (5/16" drilled hole)
http://www.mapleguys.com/index.php?item=207&ret=http://www.mapleguys.com/index.php?page=5&all=yes

Either one seems well built and serves the intended function.

I've just cut a hole in the side of plastic jugs and jam those directly
on to the taps. Seems to work ok, and I haven't gotten a lot of
bugs and crud in the sap since I can leave the lids on the jugs.

From what I've read...

- As mentioned, don't do your boiling in the house. The steam will carry
off some of the sugar and deposit a sticky mess all around your kitchen.
Maybe once you get it boiled down close to a final product you can
move the operation to your kitchen stove and use the finer heat controls
there to put the final touches on the syrup.

- Technically metal pipe will work. I suspect cast iron may deposit rust
in your syrup though. Don't know if zinc will leach off zinc coated gas
pipe. You can also use copper, but make sure to remove the spout
when you're done collecting sap, or the copper pipe can poison the tree.

- You can make your own wodden taps/spouts/spiles. Any small branch
that has a soft center core that can be pushed out to form a tube will do.

- I had read the boil-down ratio was closer to 60:1, but many of you say
40:1, so I'll start there and see how it goes.

- Sample the syrup with a candy thermometer. When the syrup boils
at a temperature that's 7 degrees higher than boiling water, its done.
Note that you'll need to "benchmark" your boiling water temperature
first. 212 degrees is the standard answer, but that varies based on
your elevation, and relative accuracy of your thermometer.

- You'll want to strain the syrup after you're done. They make special
filters for that, but I was too cheap to buy them for this first-time
experiment. They say that coffee filters will NOT work. The syrup
is too thick. Makes we wonder though if you couldn't filter the raw
sap through a coffe filter before you start boiling. That's what I'm gonna
try.

- Don't collect the syrup too long into the spring. If the leaves start
to bud while you're still collecting, the syrup will taste "buddy",
whatever that means. Not good though.

- The prime time for collecting is when the temperatures are fluxuating
between above freezing during the day and below freezing at night.

That's about all I know. I've been collecting from my two soft maple
trees for a couple of weeks. I've got about two gallons of sap frozen
in the freezer, and a wife who wants to know when I'm going to get
that junk out of there. OK, so its a real small scale operation at this
point, and I'll end up with less than a cup of syrup. Still want to go
through the learning process though.
Great post, thanks for the info!
 
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