It is again that time of year when our thoughts turn to that delicious liquid gold known as maple syrup. As Canadians, it is almost a rite of passage to tap a maple tree for sap and most of us don’t realize that we can tap more than just maples. Walnuts and birches also produce sap that we can boil into syrup. However, for this blog, we stuck with what was most familiar, maples.
Sugar tapping to make maple syrup
A while back, the TreeTime.ca team left the warm comfort of the office to brave the first signs of spring and tried sugar tapping. After finding several Manitoba Maples, we drilled into them, attached a plastic spout with some vinyl tubing, and collected sap in clean 3.78 liters (1 gallon) milk jugs. (tubing and spout can be purchased online at SeedTime.ca)
By the next day, we were as excited as children waiting for Santa. We rushed to our site and found that our milk jugs were full of sap. As we removed the milk jugs and spouts, our thoughts turned to pancakes smothered in that buttery liquid gold we call maple syrup. But if we were being honest, our thoughts were of drinking syrup straight from the container, Buddy the Elf style.
Steps to make your own maple syrup
Time needed: 2 minutes.
We followed these simple steps to make our own maple syrup (stove top method):
- Pour the sap into pot
Use a stainless steel pot on high heat.
- Boil sap
Use a candy thermometer to boil the sap until it reaches 105° to 106° Celsius.
- Supervise your pot
Sap contains sugar and burns easily.
- Reduce sap
Continue boiling to reduce the sap into syrup.
- Taste test your syrup
Make sure your syrup reaches your desired flavour and consistency.
- Cool syrup
Syrup is hot and can burn.
Pour syrup into jars, seal, and enjoy.
What did we think? Here are our comments:
“Much more pleasant than I was expecting – I’d eat that.”
“Much better than Birch Syrup.”
“Ya. Kind of like butter but sweet.”
Upon reflection, this was a fun and very Canadian DIY project. It took a bit of time, but it was a very easy and rewarding experience. If you have kids, friends, or family who enjoy being outdoors, make an adventure of it and go sugar tapping. We made amazing memories and even better-tasting syrup. In the end, one employee hoarded our syrup… you know who you are.
- We can tap Sugar, Silver, and Manitoba Maples, White Birch, Black Walnut for sap.
- Silver maple is similar in taste to sugar maple syrup.
- Many prairie and Atlantic provinces have commercial operations producing syrup.
- The sugar content can be 1 to 8% of the initially collected sap depending on the species, the season, and several other variables. Always test your syrup for desired sweetness and consistency.
- Sugar Maple syrup ratio is estimated at a 25:1 ratio.
- Manitoba Maple is estimated at a 40:1 ratio.
- White Birch is estimated at a 100:1 ratio.