How to Make Maple Syrup

| 1/16/2018 10:08:00 AM

Last week, I wrote about the joys of backyard maple syrup making - the knowing-we-can-do-it satisfaction I get from making my own syrup. In this article, I share some of the how-to details so you can do it, too. It’s not hard, but there are a few things you need to know to be successful. 

homemade maple syrup

There's nothing quite like the I-made-it-myself taste of homemade maple syrup.

Timing is Everything

The window for collecting maple sap is as critical as it is brief - a month or less. Watch for consistently low temperatures below freezing and equally consistent highs above freezing. Sap-collecting time is over once the trees begin to bud. Syrup will get an “off” taste then.

Select and Tap Your Trees

The best time to identify maple trees on you property is when they’re in leaf. Mark them with surveyor’s tape or a squirt of spray paint for easy identification later. Select healthy trees at least twelve inches in diameter (not circumference). Use only one tap for a tree that size. The larger the tree, the more taps you can use. Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources says two spiles for a 15-19” diameter tree; three for 21-24”, four for a 25” or larger tree.

To tap a tree, first choose a spile—a purchased metal one or one you make yourself. Drill a hole in the tree (about 4" above ground) 1½ to-2” deep (depending on bark thickness) angling your drill slightly upward so the sap can flow downwards. Hole diameter should match spile diameter. With a hammer, tap the spile into the tree. It needs to fit snugly and stay put, but tap gently to avoid damaging the tree.

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