The Maple Syrup Experiment


We attended an event at Camp Kawartha a few weeks ago, where everyone was a-buzz about maple syrup. A couple of friends who live in town had asked a bunch of folks in their neighborhood if they could tap their maple trees and just under 40 neighbors had agreed. It hit me then, we live in the forest, I’ve got the time…we can make maple syrup. Then I recalled that we don’t live in a maple stand, and while there is one close by, it’s conservation land and also too far to truck gallons of sap by hand, or even by wagon. BUT there are some mature maples in our yard – why not tap a couple as an experiment!?

I promptly forgot about this idea for a few days, then was handed a couple of spigots from good friend who recalled my enthusiastic (if fleeting) interest in the syrup experiment. That was it, we would do it. I tracked down a cordless drill, went out a couple of times trying to drill holes in a great big maple with the drill on reverse (yes, that happened) and then finally, successfully got the spigots into the tree and began collecting sap from one tree, with two spigots.

This is really, really easy and super fun for kids. Esker and I check the buckets each day after school, and have been freezing the sap in yogurt containers. Last night, we decided to boil some down to see how much syrup we got. We had about a big soup pot full of sap and got the glorious jar of syrup you see above. A couple of things I found  neat while internetting about maple syrup:

  • When the maples begin to bud, the sap they produce becomes bitter. So the window to tap is between when the sap starts to flow and the buds come out
  • If you don’t have a immersion thermometer to check the temp of your syrup while boiling it down, you’ll know it’s done when the syrup starts to bubble like crazy
  • You have to strain the sap a number of times throughout the process to remove impurities, and it’s a good idea to collect the sap daily or it will be cloudy and may breed bacteria.

So fun and rewarding.

Update – it is so so so delicious