How to Make Maple Syrup

| 3/17/2015 11:38:00 AM

Tags: Minnesota, Julie Fryer, making maple syrup, sugarmaking,

By now, can’t you just taste that first pancake breakfast? Before you sit down to those flapjacks, though, you have to get this sap made into syrup. This article will walk you through every step of boiling and bottling. It’s not complicated but it is time-consuming and requires your full attention during certain points. Please remember, you will be handling hot, boiling, sugary liquid – be careful as you handle it and protect your arms and legs from splatters.

Throughout this process, you’ll be relying on your thermometer to tell you when to move onto the next stage. If your readings are even a couple degrees off, you’ll make sugar instead of syrup! Make sure your thermometer is working perfectly by calibrating it before each day’s boil. You can find quick calibration instructions online.

How Sap Turns into Syrup

Pure maple syrup is made by evaporating the water from the sap and caramelizing the sugars through a long and steady boil. The goal of this entire cooking process is to heat the sap to 219 degrees Fahrenheit (or 7 degrees above water’s boiling point). It can take many hours to get to this point but be warned that the last few degrees go quickly and can mean the difference between syrup and candy! The process is broken down into three stages:

First Stage: The Beginning Boil

Once you have a good bed of coals ready with extra fuel nearby (or your cook stove ready to go), pour your filtered sap into the pan and start cooking. Keep back one cup of sap (more on using this later). Leave 3 inches to 6 inches of headspace in the pan as sap can often foam up and boil over. Cook over high heat until you get a gentle rolling boil and then reduce heat enough to keep this boil going.

If you were unable to fit all your sap into one pan, you’ll need to preheat the extra sap in smaller pans. As the sap in the largest pan reduces, continue adding your additional pre-warmed sap until all the sap is boiling in one big batch. Do not add cold sap to this evaporator pan as that will “kill” the boil. Make sure to leave headspace for boil-overs.

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