Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Boiling sap for maple syrup

I decided not to tap any of my maple trees this year. I just didn’t feel like doing it, and we still have plenty of syrup from last year. We don’t have very many syrup trees, maybe three dozen at the most. But, our friend Gill who lives across town has a couple hundred he usually taps. Last year he let us collect sap from his trees and boil it down on his evaporator. This year the weather hasn’t cooperated very well, but Gill has been collecting sap for about a week and expects to get more in the next few days. He offered us some sap, because he didn’t think he would get all that he had collected boiled down soon enough.

So, Dad and I went over yesterday to bring home some sap. We didn’t know quite how we were going to evaporate it to make maple syrup, but we figured we would come up with some way. In the past we have evaporated a few gallons inside on our wood stoves. But, we brought home about fireplace for boiling sap85 gallons from Gill’s, and that is too much to do inside. Gill was kind enough to lend us his small evaporator pan. It holds about 15 gallons.

We put the sap in a 275 gallon tote that I had previously had water in for the cows (thankfully, it was empty). When we got back home, I made a quick fireplace with concrete blocks, tote with sap on back of the trucksome pieces of metal, and a short section of stove pipe. It’s large enough for the pan to cover the opening on the top. Keeping a good fire in it allows the sap to boil, evaporating off most of the water, leaving the sugars concentrated for syrup. We finish it inside one the wood stove. It boils away at about 1.5 inches per hour.

I lifted the bed of the truck to tilt the tote, making it easier to get the sap out. The fireplace is near the truck, making it easy to add sap to the pan as needed.

in front of the garageI finished two pints of syrup last night. This is grade “AA” stuff – quite thick and flavorful. I put another pan of sap on last night after taking off the first batch. Before going to bed I was able to add about 6 gallons more sap and then some more this morning for about 27 or 28 gallons all together. I made three pints of grade “AA” syrup form this today. We just took off the third batch we boiled down from about 21 gallons of sap this afternoon. Dad will finish it tonight. There’s another pan on to evaporate tonight and tomorrow morning, hopefully finishing up what we brought home.

When I bring the condensed sap in to finish it, I put it on the stove to boil. Inside I can watch it more carefully and keep from scorching it. Our candy thermometer doesn’t work, even though it is brand new (I don’t know if we’ve ever had one that actually works right). When the syrup started foaming vigorously, I figured it was ready to bottle. I heated pint jars in the oven and boiled some lids. Then, I strained the syrup (a slow process, usually) into the jars, put lids and rings on them, and set them on the counter. They usually seal within 30 minutes or so.

We enjoy the pure maple syrup we make during the rest of the year. It’s great on pancakes, of course.


small farm girl

And just how CAN a person get some of that AA maple syrup? hehehehe


Ya gotta be in the right place at the right time! Or, you tap some maple trees and boil the sap until it becomes syrup. It's actually quite easy.


I've been enoying your blog. It seems we have much in common.

We live in eastern Kentucky, and we have tapped a few of our own maple trees as well. (People around here think we are crazy.) We've had a good sap flow this week.

Like you, we are striving to be as self sufficient as possible. We are not off the grid yet, but we hope to keep moving in that direction.

Your story is an encouragement to me and I'm looking forward to gleaning plenty of info from your past and future posts.

God bless,




I'm glad to have you visit my blog. It's exciting and encouraging to hear of others pursuing some of the same objectives as we are. Way to go with tapping your maple trees! There are those who don't think of Kentucky as a syrup-producing state, but no one told the maple trees, I guess.

If you're ever in this area of the state, we'd love to have you come by. How far east are you?


MMmmm! Maple syrup! That is SO cool! :) Can I come over for breakfast?


We are located in Johnson County. Metcalfe is probably 4 hours away from us and we seldom get over that way. Everyone around here considers anything west of I-75 as "western Kentucky". I would love to drop in sometime and see all you have accomplished, but I don't see that happening any time soon. We camped once, many years ago, in Adair County, which is about as close to your area as we've been, I think.

It is beautiful country over there, but I do love my mountains as well. We have much steeper land to deal with on our homestead and almost no flat land. It seems that is where you have a wonderful advantage over us! It would be a great blessing to have my own hay field or corn field, but we are very thankful for what God has given us.

Again, you have a great blog and it is a joy to read! God bless you all, and I will try to keep in touch.


Throwback at Trapper Creek

I thought I saw a familiar pond in a friends Countryside Journal! Sure enough it was you folks. Nice article and mark me down as jealous of your maple trees - our forests are 99% conifer.


Eric, whether you're this way or we're that way sometime, we ought to meet.

TaTC, yeah, it was a pretty nice article. When they put that issue online, I'll make a link to it on my blog. If I get to make a few more pints of syrup, I'm thinking about a giveaway.


And that is why Maple syrup is so expensive in the store. I had no idea of the process. It has been a long time since I have seen the site of a sugar maple being tapped. I grew up in Ohio and one town always had a Maple syrup festival and sold all kids of Maple syrup items. I loved going there, it smelled so sweet.


Kat, it takes 40-50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. You can use the sap from any maple. The sugar maples just have a higher sugar content, I believe.

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