How to Make Maple Syrup

leaf bottle

Maple syrup!  I’ve done it!  I’ve made Maple Syrup with my own bare hands.  My own  Little House in the Big Woods, slightly stumpy hands.

It was actually rereading the Little House series that finally convinced me to make Maple Syrup from the enormous black maple in my backyard.  At the end of every winter, Ma, Pa, Laura and Mary would head out into the woods to gather sap, bring it inside and make sugar.

Yes  sugar.  They also made Maple Syrup, but the main reason they tapped trees was to provide enough sugar for themselves for the coming year.  They also had in the house, a small bowl of “store sugar” for when company came.  Store sugar, being refined white sugar they bought at the General Store, that was only taken out for special occasions.  You know.  When someone killed a hog or invented the wheel or something.

My how the times have changed.  Firstly, I can guarantee if anyone gets overzealous with their use of my homemade maple syrup I *will* go all Laura Ingalls on their ass and shove a pinnafore down their throat until they choke on it.

Ahem.  You see, this maple syrup is quite a time consuming process.  It’s not hard.  It’s not terribly labour intensive.  It just takes a long time and fairly constant attention.  And a touch of insanity.   So I’m good there.

Before I give you the step by step instructions on  how to make Maple Syrup, I’ll let you know how it went for me.  I ended up doing around 4 batches of Maple Syrup that went horribly wrong for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was being completely drunk while doing it.  Just kidding.



Tap your trees and gather your sap, like I showed you here.


Find a suitable place to boil down lots of sap.  I tried … my BBQ.  It didn’t work.  Wouldn’t get hot enough.



My smoker!  Didn’t work.  Would need to be feeding it lump charcoal constantly, plus it wouldn’t get hot enough (’cause the lid needed to be open).



A vintage, probably barely legal, hotplate.  Didn’t get hot enough.



Gas stove inside.  Worked! I was trying to avoid this option because I’d been warned about how much steam boiling sap all day produces.

I finally relented and went with the indoor stove because I had no other options.  Plus, I make chicken stock all the time and boil it all day and it isn’t a problem.  You’re probably thinking the same thing, right?



Wrong.  Every mirror, window, door, wall, article of clothing and cat in the house was covered in steam.

But as I mentioned before … I had no other options.  Besides.  We’re pioneers here.  I don’t think pioneers worried about sap covered cats.



You will need 2 pots to make Maple Syrup.

A big stock pot with a lid to constantly heat up your sap.

And a roasting pan or something that has a large surface area.  It needs to be at least 5″ deep.

The roasting pan is your “Evaporation Pan”.  This baby will be the workhorse of your operation.

1.  Heat your Syrup up in a stock pot with lid.  (It just heats faster if you have a pot w/ a lid)  Once hot, add it to the evaporation pan.

2.  Keep your evaporation pan of sap boiling.  When it starts to evaporate, add more hot sap from your stock pot.

This process will continue the entire day.   Just keep adding sap to the stock pot, heating it, then adding it to the evaporation pan.

7 A


3.  Once you’ve added all your sap to the evaporation pan and it’s looking a darker colour like syrup and is approximately 213 degrees, dump it all into a finishing pot.

The finishing pot is just a regular pot, but you need to use it.  It helps make sure you don’t burn your syrup, because the smaller pot (as opposed to the evaporation pan) gives you a deeper amount of syrup.  1″ of syrup in the evaporation pan is 6 or so inches of syrup in the smaller pot.  Understand?


4.  Water boils at 212 °F where I live.  Syrup always boils at 7.1°F (3.94°C)  above the boiling point of water. When you reach that temp., you have syrup.

So when my sap reaches 219°F, it’s officially syrup.

To see what you need to boil your syrup to, do a test run with a pot of water.  See what temperature it boils at, then add 7.1°




Turn the heat down a little bit so you don’t scorch or overheat your syrup. You want to keep it at 7.1º above the boiling point of water.

Even though this is technically syrup, and most websites say it’s ready to bottle now … I found that wasn’t necessarily true.

Keep evaporating it until it becomes syrup.



5.  Now you need to test if what you have in the pot is no longer sap, but is actually syrup.  You can test whether it’s syrup in a few ways.

The first way is by looking at how it drops off of a spoon.

When it’s syrup, the final drop off of the spoon, will just  hang there for quite some time.  When it finally drops off the spoon, you will see a *tiny* thread of a tail from the drop.  Like a sperm.  A maple syrup sperm drop.



I can tell you from experience, that without having made maple syrup before, this method is really, really hard.

You see, for sap to officially be called “Maple Syrup”, it needs to meet a sugar requirement, which is measured in “Brix”.  “Brix” is the percentage of sugar in the syrup.  Maple Syrup needs to be between 66.5% and 67.5% sugar.  Anything below or above that isn’t syrup.  If you don’t boil long enough and have a sugar content that’s below 66.5% your “syrup” will be too thin and could possibly spoil when you bottle it.  If you boil it to long and have a sugar content that’s above 67.5%, your “syrup” will crystallize once you bottle it.  So trying to “eyeball” it is difficult.  Especially with no prior Maple Syrup making experience.


thin & thick

After playing the guessing game for 4 batches of syrup, I finally broke down and ordered this baby …



A hydrotherm is a cross between a thermometer and a hydrometer.  It tests the viscosity of your syrup.  It cost $30. I ordered it here, and it took 2 days from ordering to delivery to the door.  It is made specifically for testing Maple Syrup.  You just fill a tall, thin vessel with your syrup and float the hydrotherm in it.  If the red line on the hydrotherm is below the surface of the liquid your syrup is too thin still and you need to boil it more.  If the red line is above, your syrup is too thick.  Too thick is trickier to fix but if it isn’t too bad, you can add more sap to your batch and thin it out, then boil it again.



If the red line on the hydrotherm is even with the surface of your liquid … YOU have MAPLE SYRUP!  Don’t be frightened by the scary, scary, scientific equipment.  It really just makes thing easier and for $30 will make your entire Maple Syrup making experience a LOT more enjoyable.



Once you’ve determined you have syrup, it’s now time to …

6.  Filter your syrup.

You filter it through a felt sock with paper liners inside of it. You can get all of this stuff where you guy your maple syrup supplies.  The felt sock is $19 and the paper liners are about $1 each.  They can all be washed (in hot water with no soap) and reused.

After using the felt liner for my first few batches, I ended up getting rid of it, in favour of 3 paper liners.  I found for the small amount of syrup I was making, the felt liner simply sucked up too much of my syrup.  3 paper liners, still resulted in a nice clear syrup.

The filtering process gets rid of “Sugar Sand”.



Let your syrup filter for as long as it needs to.  I just left mine for about 15 minutes.  You can clamp the filters to your container to hold it in place, or you can  just hold it.  For the last little bit you can fold your filters down, and cover everything with a towel.  Keeping the syrup  hot as it filters helps it go through the filters easier and ensures you get every last bit of syrup out.  Do not squeeze the filters to get the remaining syrup out.  You’ll end up  with sediment.



That right there, is your sugar sand.  Don’t eat it.  It’s gross.  (*some people eat it, but they’re gross*)



Now you have beautifully filtered, 100% pure Maple Syrup.  And it only took a whole day.

7.  To bottle your syrup to give away (as if) you need to reheat your syrup.



I got in the habit of filtering into a microwavable cup so I could just stick the cup in the microwave to reheat it.  The less transferring from pot to pot the better.  If I were to pour this measuring cup of syrup into a pot to reheat it, I’d lose syrup.



I didn’t find any instructions about bottling your syrup that said to heat your glass bottles.  However, being a canner, I decided to keep my bottles in the oven until it was time to fill them.  (lids weren’t in the oven)



8.  Fill your bottles.



Lay your bottles on their sides to sterilize the underside of the cap and help seal.



Now you have beautifully bottled Maple Syrup to give away to all your neighbours.

Or, in this case, you have beautifully bottled Maple Syrup which you hung off of a neighbour’s door knob, took a few quick pictures, then ran away.  With your bottle of Maple Syrup.  Either way, it’s a fun day.

Syrup on door


Karen’s Maple Syrup Quick Tips

  1. Do not use a teflon evaporation pan.  (I started with one, all the teflon boiled off of it, so I moved onto a regular roasting pan)
  2. Keep an eye on things once you get around 217 degrees F.
  3. If you plan on eating your syrup right away and not bottling any for future use, you don’t really need a hydrometer or hydrotherm.  However, if you DO want to bottle it to save and give away, a hydrometer/hydrotherm is necessary.
  4. Save your sap outside in food safe buckets (providing it’s cold enough out) and make as large a batch as possible.
  5. Sap will run faster some days (warm & sunny) and slower others (cold & dark)
  6. Make as big a batch as possible.  It’s much more difficult to work with a small amount of sap.
  7. I boiled 40 litres of sap and ended up with 3 cups of syrup.   Yes I know.  I’m mixing measuring units.  Enough for 2 medium and 2 small bottles of syrup.  It took 3 days of collecting and 12 hours of boiling.
  8. If anyone asks you if they can have a bottle smile and say Sure!                             Then completely ignore their request.



Special thanks to Terry from for his help and talking me down from the ledge a few times.  Also thanks to reader Maria from Boothman Sugar Orchard for doing the same.

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  1. Gale says:

    Where did you find that cute maple leaf bottle?

    • Karen says:

      Gale – I ordered a few of them from the same place I ordered my Hydrotherm. The bigger, plain bottles were much cheaper from my farm store, but I *had* to have a few of the classic Maple Leaf bottles. ~ karen!

  2. Janey says:

    You are absolutely amazing.

  3. I am in awe of you. I love, love that you figured out how to do this – it’s the neatest thing I’ve ever seen.

  4. bex says:

    I o I o i… Its off to the shops I go. Looks so complicated Karen! Could you please show us how to make beer next. I’m sure that’s easier…

    • Karen says:

      Bex – Not complicated at all. I was just thorough in the tutorial. I wanted to cover everything so you didn’t have to go through the same mistakes I did on my test runs. ~ k!

  5. Gknee says:

    I absolutely loooove maple syrup and knock back a tablespoon a day…mom always told me it was good for you, you know like honey. Amazing diy Karen!!!!

  6. Love the last tip!
    I make my own Rose Face Cream, and people are always asking me to show them how (even though I sell it!). I use that strategy!

  7. We lived (poorly) in a lovely valley in a very wealthy area and my parents tapped the trees. I will never forget my mother standing in her oldest clothes with a kerchief over her head, stirring her witches cauldron of maple syrup over an open fire, and the local bird-watchers society all trooped by. I don’t think my mother ever got over the humiliation of them all gawking at her without a word, because she never made maple syrup again.
    Since you’re living in a newly temperate zone and dont’ have any snow this year, you forgot the best part of the testing – throwing a half-cup into the clean snow and eating maple snow cones!

  8. Susan says:

    Wow! What a great idea! I have 3 huge old maples in my yard. All they have ever given me is leaves, leaves and branches after a wind storm. Oh did I mention the limb that fell on my Lincoln and totaled it? So making maple syrup for my pancakes would be a fabulous idea. I think I shall run right out and buy all the stuff I need today. …..wait a minute! How much did it all cost?… Maybe I’ll just go to the store and get a bottle of syrup, wash off the label and call it mine! :-)….. So enjoyed your experience though!

  9. Deborah says:

    You lucky son of a gun you!!! Now I want to run to my neighbours house and tap their tree and steal all their sap…But I will just head to the local Conservation area in north Burlington and buy a bottle or two instead 🙂 What a great tutorial! Thanks so much for expending all that time, energy and money (for supplies!) on making sure we can (if we want to) make maple syrup! You are so cool… 🙂

  10. Sally says:

    I don’t have maple trees here but I do have lots of oaks. Wonder how oak syrup would taste? After this tutorial I’m pumped to make syrup out of something! You, my dear, aren’t afraid of anything! I’m super duper impressed with your syrup skills. And, I don’t throw that kind of compliment around willy nilly.

  11. Bernadette says:

    this is super cool! great job. very informative, yet totally readable for someone like me with a relatively short attention span. If not for my inability to keep focused on the task at hand, I’d want to give this a shot myself. will you be doing this again? selling a few bottles, perhaps?

  12. Melissa says:

    Karen, this was such a treat to see. My dad – who is THE MOST FRUGAL PERSON ALIVE – used to make maple syrup, and I don’t think he went through the exacting standards you did… which is to say, he was all good with the thinner syrup (it meant it would go further on our morning crepes, LOL). He asked us if we might want his equipment, and after seeing this post, I’m definitely going to take advantage of his offer. Also, you have piqued my curiosity about the Laura Ingalls and the maple sugar. How freakin’ great would it be to say , “Yeah, we supply our own sugar…”

  13. Rebecca says:

    Karen! I’m so impressed and the bottle looks very cute hanging on the door knob.

  14. calliek says:

    Your syrup is beautiful- looks like it’s Canada #1 Light grade!

    Sally I’m pretty certain you cannot make oak syrup – we accidently tapped an oak once (trees all kinda look alike when they don’t have leaves) and oaks don’t appear to have a sap run – or maybe it’s deeper inside the tree but we didn’t see a drop.

  15. Jeanne says:

    We moved from Atlanta to Massachusetts in the 70’s and decided to tap the maple trees in the yard. Started the fire, the BBQ pit, bundled up in 3 layers of coats, scarves and hats. It didn’t work. Brought everything in on 3rd day to the kitchen stove. Big mistake. Good way to take off the old wallpaper in kitchen, hall and dining room, however. Boiled down to 2 small bottles of syrup the kids wouldn’t touch. Neighbors never forgot it and we “southerners” are still joked about. I find its cheaper to just go buy it. You Canadians have a thing about Maple anyway! My hat, scarves, are off to you and I bow to your enthusiasm and talent.

  16. Crystal says:

    I’ll probably never make maple syrup but I loved reading these posts! If the topic of maple syrup ever comes up, I’ll be like the nerdy kid in class, hand raised “Oo, Oo, I know how to make it!”

  17. marilyn says:

    good job karen! i will be seeing terry this weekend at his sugarbush so i will tell him how wonderful it all turned out. he is passionate about his maple syrup!

  18. Maria says:

    Yay! You did it! Lovely pics by the way. 🙂 looks like a nice Light Amber.

    • Karen says:

      Yay! I did it! 🙂 Sap doesn’t seem to be running very well despite the warm weather and cooler nights though. I hope I get to make more. ~ k!

  19. Nicole2 says:

    I agree with you with the not sharing. Too much work to share! What is the yield ratio from sap to syrup?

  20. AmieM says:

    This is really cool! We went to Mountsberg sugar bush this Sunday. But with March Break being this week, it was far too packed! So we didn’t get to try any fresh syrup.

    But we will be tapping the trees in our yard, next year, when we buy our first house.

  21. Jamieson says:

    Girl, you crazy.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Laura! And yes everyone … Laura Ingalls Gunn, is an actual Ingalls. I’m proud to have her read my blog and would be most impressed if she referred to *me* as half pint. Only I probably cuss more than half pint. 🙂 ~ karen

  22. Herp says:

    For outdoor boiling, you can use a propane turkey fryer setup…

    • Karen says:

      Herp – Yes, that’s true. However, I don’t have room in my house for one extra thing. Old house, no storage, so … no turkey fryer for me. 🙂 ~ karen

  23. J9 says:

    I don’t ever plan to do this, but I would like to eat it. This was fascinating to read though…did you actually stand at your stove ALL day?

    • Karen says:

      J9 – You don’t have to stand by the stove all day. Just be in the general vicinity. My computer where I work is set up in my kitchen, so it wasn’t a problem. ~ k!

  24. Dru says:

    wonderful. I’m off to tap my neighbors trees, as we have no maples on the farm..

  25. Sherri says:

    Karen…I don’t really know what to say after reading about your latest syrup project. It’s obvious that you’re adventurous and love a challenge. No one could argue that point. I, on the other hand, must be the laziest damned person in Nebraska because the entire time I was reading today’s post, I kept wondering which of us is the craziest. You, for spending one entire day brewing up a very small batch of maple syrup or me, for buying it at the store (organic and real…not the fake crap!). Does the homemade variety really taste that much better than the real maple syrup you can buy at the store. We have a red maple in our yard so I guess it’s theoretically possible for me to make some. But then I think about all those wonderful people whose livelihood it is to harvest the sap and transport the sap and tend the boiling pots and know the exact point at which to bottle it and the delivery truck drivers and…well, you see where this is going. I figure I’m supporting our struggling American economy every time I buy a quart of real maple syrup. Unless, of course, that syrup is made in Canada. ;p

    • Karen says:

      Sherri – It really isn’t that much work. But … I’m a doer. You might not be a doer. You might be a buyer. Which is fine. There needs to be both of us in this world. Oftentimes I do things not because they’re cheaper, or even necessarily better … I do them because I can and I want to show you that you CAN too. It ain’t that hard. Any of it. 🙂 ~ karen

  26. magali says:

    I now understand why maple syrup is so expensive. I am *very* impressed! … and I think it’s time for a new giveaway!!

  27. Diane says:

    Holy crap. I bow to you, the goddess of DIY. You have more follow through than I. I probably would have given up before the trial and error was complete. Lol

  28. carey says:

    karen, you are the man! we always use the real stuff and make whip cream withit and other delish stuff, but i have a whole new appreciation for real. maple. syrup. yum!

  29. anna says:

    this is why you should have been #1!! i don’t have a maple tree here in texas, but i like that fact that if that situation changes i’ll know exactly what to do with it. trial and error notes are so helpful!

  30. D'Ann says:

    “…I boiled 40 litres of sap and ended up with 3 cups of syrup…”

    That’s all I need to know! LOL I’ll continue to buy this amazingly wonderful stuff from our local supplier!

    Hats off, to ya, gurl!!

  31. Very cool. I’m headed out to tap all the trees in my neighborhood right now.

  32. Amy in StL says:

    I’m with Anna. You just MADE maple syrup. Way more impressive than the first two blogs. Also, there’s more sarcasm and cussing here. 🙂

  33. Gayla T says:

    When you send me my bottle of syrup may I please have it in the leaf bottle? Thank you so much. Here’s where you smile and say sure. LOL I know you didn’t get those bottles at the Laura Ingalls store and I love them but since I’ll never be making syrup I can live w/o them, right? This, my dear is probably Karen @ her best. Very very impressive. After all that work was it worth it? Will you do it again next year? I know after buying all that stuff you have to be way in the hole vs. buying it but in prestige value, a winner for sure and a most excellent tutorial.

  34. Gayla T says:

    I meant to ask….was the steam sticky? To me I think it would be but my friend that did it in the oven never said her oven got sticky. Inquiring minds want to know. What I want to do is get bees and make honey. We have relatives w/an apple orchard who do honey and it’s so much better than what the grocery carries. At 67 I don’t have time to grow a maple tree but bees I can do.

  35. Agnes says:

    WOW, you are a true pioneer woman. I wouldn’t wanna be the dish washer in your house.

    Happy Pi Day Karen!

  36. Laura Bee says:

    That is a thing of beauty. Since I’m sure you will do this again, what about a propane burner? Good for tomatoes, corn boils, chilli, lobster, anything! Your chicken stock too, although I wouldn’t do it in sight of the coop, might scare the girls.

  37. Karol says:

    Oh Karen, you lost me at “tap your trees, and gather your sap”. I love you without even knowing you, because you’re a feisty, sassy “doer”. I’m a feisty, sassy doer too, but this has been added to my list of things that will not happen in my lifetime. I guess “doer” is one of those relative terms. Meaning, I’d find a relative to do it for me.

  38. You’ve thoroughly convinced me to march right down to the store and pay whatever they want for the syrup. Thanks.

  39. AnnW says:

    I want to do this also! Most people that attempt this on a slightly larger scale use the reverse osmosis membranes, so you don’t have to cook it. Can you buy those for hobbyist use? I would much rather make maple syrup than spin yarn and knit a sweater from my dogs’ hair. Next, can you teach us to make a stone wall? Ann

  40. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    This is awesome should be very proud of doing this..And I would think that it would all be worth it in the pour that luscious gold syrup over your homemade pancakes..I’m sure the Fella is proud of you too since he will also get to enjoy it..It looks so beautiful in those bottles..I know that there is a brand of Canadian Maple Syrup that is sold locally in those gorgeous maple leaf bottles but I haven’t tried it as it is sooo expensive..I just might have to splurge now..You are just one very cool amazing lady in my book..

  41. Susan says:

    I know the confession that I’m one of the few in the world who do NOT like the taste of maple will bring down scorn upon me, but I confess it, nonetheless, and add to it my admiration of you for making it, and making me laugh reading about you making it. One of the things I most admire about you is that you figure out how to do something right, and then do it right, and share that with us. Thank you!

    • Laura Bee says:

      I have honestly never met a person who doesn’t like maple syrup. No scorn. But if I met you, I’d have to pinch you to see if you were real.

      • Susan says:

        Ouch. I’m real. And my dislike of maple is so great that, if you set a brand new box of expensive candy in front of me, even if I spend half an hour choosing a piece, it will always turn out to be maple. I’m a perfect divining rod for maple candy. The only time it doesn’t turn out to be maple is if a maple lover gets to the box before me. If we ever meet, and there’s a box of candy, I will give you the maple.

  42. Karin says:

    If you really want to cook outside next year invest in a turkey fryer. You know the ones that people set up in their garage and end up burning the house down? Propane lit and will definitely be hot enough. My guy makes beer with his when it’s too warm out to heat up the house.

  43. Sheri says:

    I love your references to the Ingalls family!! My sister and I still after 25 years make reference to the time Mr Edwards brought the girls suckers. Mary was saving hers and Laura had to eat hers right away. I have no idea why this one scene has played so predominantly between my sister and I but we quote it often. Yay on the successful Maple Syrup!! One question – how did your house smell? Sweet or funny? I’m from the west coast so its not such a “thing” out here although my stepfather is from Quebec. Thx for the witty tutorial Sheri

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sheri – Well, making syrup isn’t much of a thing here either, LOL. I only know of one other person who actually does it. But I maintain that’s because no one knows how easy it is. The house smells like a sugar shack for the day. ~ karen

  44. Brenda j says:

    Soooo…. the cost to make a wee bit vs buy? Im right proud of you city pilgrim, but… I’m buying my syrup and not laying my own eggs.
    Pancakes please!!

    • Karen says:

      Brenda J – Cheaper to make believe it or not. Total cost of supplies for bucket, tap, lid – $9. Potentially those 3 things could get you 15 bottles of syrup at a cost of around $10 a bottle. Plus … they’re all a one time investment. Same for the hydrotherm. My mom tapped her Maple today and one of my sisters is going to tap hers on the weekend, so I’ll loan them the hydrotherm. Besides … I don’t do this to save money. I do it because I love to. ~ half pint

  45. Spokangela says:

    Awesome. When our chicken coop and green house are done, we will tackle this next 🙂
    Thank you for keeping me inspired! You rock!

  46. kelliblue says:

    Y’know, every time I read your blog, after I’m done laughing and giggling and gasping and eyeball rolling…I tend to think this:–ZUxY

    YOU. ARE. THE. (wo)MAN. Truly. 😉

  47. Kasia says:

    Did you announce the additional Art of Doing Stuff towel winners yet?? Do I have the right Tuesday?? Did I win?? 🙂

  48. Heather says:

    The announcement got bumped cause you’re still washing pots from the syrup circus! Wow, I bet you house smelled sweet!

  49. I bet your going to enjoy every last drop! Thanks for the tips.

  50. Jackie H says:

    Wow! That would be so cool to try to do. Not close to any maple trees where I am 🙁 I do have to ask, where did you get the cool digital thermometer? I’ve been looking for something like that for awhile…even the brand name would help.

    • Karen says:

      HI Jackie H . I got the thermometer from my local kitchen store The Keeping Room, which has the *best* stuff. And tons of it! The make of it is “Norpro”. ~ karen

  51. Shelley says:

    So impressive (I’ll be part of the purchaser camp because I’m with Susan on not being a maple lover). Excellent tutorial but what do you do with the sugar sand (or is that the only real waste out of this project)?

  52. Barbie says:

    YOu always amaze me! Read this late, but better late than never….you simply amaze me.

  53. Kristin in Michigan says:

    Are you SURE the sugar sand tastes gross?? Seems like it would be delicious! My cutie patootie 2nd grader gets to go check out the local sugar bush operation today with school; I still remember how the maple sugar candy tasted from my elementary school trip. Yum!

  54. Beth says:

    That was fun to read,Karen! My folks have a syrup shanty with a huge boiler in it for making syrup. I’ve been there to visit a few times when it was filled with steam and sticky syrup boiling. I know you aren’t exaggerating AT ALL about the syrup on the walls, mirror and cats! Very impressed that you made the syrup ;0)

    • Karen says:

      Beth – Because you have the word “horse” in your website I had to click on it. 🙁 I miss having a horse. I want a horse. ~ karen!

      • Beth says:

        You could build a cute little stable in your yard right next to the chicken coop. If the neighbors haven’t caught on to the chickens, I’m sure they won’t notice a horse or two!

  55. Brenda j says:

    One and a Half pint!! NOW THAT’S FUNNY. and to have a real Ingals on the read… is just so, so, ahh..I’m thinking I’m a proud Mom or something, but that’s not it.
    Well, I am proud and a Mom. So there. But still not it.
    * I even made boyfriends’ watch Little House with me, before we went out. I still watch it. Just don’t have the boyfriends anymore.

  56. cynD says:

    hummm I get my Maple syrup from the local FFA. (future Farmers of America) at the High School. We have several sizable Maples.. what Kind I have not clue, none the less, I wondered if an eletric roaster would do it? You could have it out of the house for the steam issues and yet get it hot enough..?? Maybe? That would be fun. Me Thinks..

    • Karen says:

      cynD – I’m not sure the electric roaster would get hot enough. It’s surprising how much anything like that has to fight even when it’s only 40F out. :/ ~ karen!

  57. LF says:

    I have always wondered how to do this, I too remember the Laura Ingalls books 🙂 So cool that you did it!!!

  58. I have two massive silver maples that make my life a living hell….I looked it up, and yes, you can make maple syrup from their sap.

    I find it ironic and now want to suck the life out of them like they suck the life out of me. Or I could cut them down, but not before I make maple syrup.

    It too warm already here to make it now but maybe in the late fall I can pull it off. Thank you for channeling your inner Laura Ingalls for me.

  59. Anemone says:

    I must say…you have Awesome equipment. Awesome tutorial.

  60. Erin says:

    Congrats on the syrup! Everything you learned this year will make next year’s syrup better.

    My husband and I are late-bloomer doers. Make maple syrup? Sure! Several years ago, we tapped trees on our property 22km from our in town rental apartment. We filled our little Honda Accord with random containers of sap, hauling back and forth, cooking it down in a black canner on the electric oven in our open concept apartment. All surfaces were soaked and sticky. But it only took an entire day to get a litre of syrup. Hmmm.

    After we built and moved into our house, we tried again. Hauling sap was easier and we cooked it down on the BBQ side burner. Only the finishing was done inside. When we burned through the second propane tank, and still had a ways to go, we realized, “Next time, it’s wood.”

    This year we built a temporary outdoor fire pit and borrowed a real evaporating pan then finished the syrup on the BBQ. It worked great! It’s a great way to welcome spring – although it feels like we’ve skipped spring and landed in summer already.

  61. df says:

    You must be one crazy lady to have done this; I’m so incredibly impressed. The process wasn’t new to me, being a Canadian living in maple syrup country, but the very idea of trying it myself – holy hell! Especially when the end result is so very miniscule compared to the effort. But my goodness you should be pleased with yourself. Wow – enjoy every last drop! (Oh, and I must agree with other commenters – I can see that you have created a foolproof method here, for anyone brave enough to try it!)

    • Karen says:

      Now that I’ve figured it out it really isn’t very hard. Just longgggggg. It doesn’t look promising but I hope there’s one more sap run this year. By the time I figured it all out, I only ended up with 2 medium and 2 small bottles of really good stuff. ~ k!

  62. Thais says:

    Dear Karen, I have a question… after all that work are you going to make it again ?!?

    • Karen says:

      Excellent question. Yes. Yes I am going to make it again. I have a love of making ingredients. Maple Syrup, yogurt, cheese. LOVE IT! 🙂 – karen!

      • Thais says:

        … making ingredients… that’s really something!
        I started reading your blog and I love it… it may not be any news for you but I had to say it… I recently started looking for mascarpone cheese and sour cream recipes since it’s hard to find them in my area. Have you ever tried any?!?
        Keep up the good work !!!

  63. Kate says:

    I just found this blog and I’m so impressed! I grew up in Toronto and can remember going out to see the whole maple syrup process on more than one occasion when I was a kid, but I never thought it was something I could do at home. Until now, that is. Sadly I live in Florida and I’m thinking that palm trees won’t work…

    • Karen says:

      Mmm. Maybe you’ll get palm syrup? – Katen!

      • Kate says:

        Hmmm…don’t give me any ideas! My ass will be out there entertaining the neighborhood by “tapping” the palms!

        I try to be self-sufficient mostly because I’m cheap and think I’m saving money, but in reality I spend probably twice as much on all the equipment “necessary” for my soap making, ceramics, jewelry, chickens, etc., etc. It’s a mental illness I think! 🙂

        I really love your blog – you are hysterical!

  64. tami says:

    Holy cow thats alot of work lady! Im really impressed! Living in northern N.J.with big glorious trees and seeing the price of pure maple syrup i thought maybe i would give it a go. Hmmm. Now im not so sure about that. I thought id be swimming in pools of syrup all free for the taking. But after seeing your yield of 3 cups maybe i’ll spend the 20 bucks! HA. call me lazy!

  65. Ed says:

    I have a short story.
    About five years ago I told my wife I was going to make some maple sirup. I drove 90 miles to a sugar bush and talked with the owner who gave me some spiles and tubing to get me started. I made my first batches and ended up with slightly over a gallon of sirup. Well, the wife tasted it sirup and declared that the next year I had to make more. In the fall we drove up to Mason, Mi to the Sugarbush Supplies store and she bought me a 3 burner camp stove. I had a 2′ x 3′ stainless steel pan made and this year I plan on making at least 10 gallons. I have shipped it as far as Ca.

  66. Erin says:

    Thanks so much for the information! I made my own yesterday and unfortunately, it crystallized. Would I be able to add more sap and cook it down again or isn’t it savable? You said you could add more sap if it was too think, but mine has hit the crystallized stage. I have more sap and can’t wait to keep trying until it comes out right!

  67. Pati says:

    You did GREAT !!!
    We make maple syrup every year.
    We first started out using restaurant stainless steel rectangle pans over a fire outdoors.
    Well, that got old real fast…so we built a sugar shack (the man cave the rest of the year !!!)
    If you under cook it, you will get mold on the top (just scoop it off and you’re ok). If over cooked, you’ll get sugar crystals on the bottom. we make around 10-12 gallons of syrup each year, mostly to give away. We burn 1 batch every other year (literally BURN) to use for baked beans and ham basting. I call it cooking syrup. It gets a smoky rich flavor.
    An interesting thing is that the first boil from early sap, the syrup will be quite light in color and flavor. As you go later in the season, the syrup gets darker and more flavorful.
    Once the buds on the sugar maple trees start to swell, that’s when you stop collecting sap.
    It starts to get bitter when boiled…called Bud Sap.
    The more leaf buds on the trees, the more sugar in the sap. So older trees give more sugar per gallon of sap.
    The sap water comes up from the roots and the sugar comes from the buds.
    It takes anywhere from 35 to 65 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. Again, depending on the amount of sugar in the sap.
    TIP : if the sap in the buckets freezes, take out the ice as it’s ALL Water. Sugar won’t freeze. It won’t take as long to evaporate.
    Thank You for letting me Ramble On !!!

  68. Linda says:

    Thank you soooo much…with your explanation…I have finally PERFECTED the art back yard maple sugaring!!! Thanks a million!

  69. Nicole says:

    I read your blog about making syrup last year but was able to try. I have been dreaming and planning for a for year to give it a go. I have been gathering supplies for some time now and I have one question. I have a Hydrometer, what is the difference between that and Hydrotherm. Do I need both or do I need to go by the Hydrotherm? Thanks

  70. Alice says:

    Thanks for the great advice! You saved me a lot of suffering. My son had a gallon of sap from school and wanted to make candy. It isn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t have made it through without your post. In fact, I would have tried to do it inside… 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Did you make the syrup then? How did it work out?! I didn’t tap this year because I still have a few bottles of maple syrup from last year but I miss doing it. It’s a great reason to get outside at this time of year. ~ karen!

      • Alice says:

        We made imperfect syrup, and then brought that inside and boiled it super hot to the candy stage, and then poured it into a cupcake pan. One gallon of sap produced enough for a piece of candy the size of an Oreo. And it has a bitter taste to it, like molasses. But I know I did a few things less than perfectly, so it could be any one of those.

        I made a video for my son to show at school. It’s 3 minutes. (There’s some dead space after the 3 minute mark, but there’s nothing interesting about to happen. Just stop watching.)

  71. Matt C says:

    Your article rocks. I borrowed a spile from a friend today and tapped one of our (Norway, I believe) maples – got three pints in as many hours. Tastes like three pints of water that someone stirred half a sugar cube into. I’m absurdly excited to actually get to the syrup-making stage – will blog it if it’s a success (or a sufficiently hilarious failure).

    • Karen says:

      Hi Matt. Frankly I’d think it absurd if you were to consider making your own maple syrup to be anything other than absurdly exciting. YOU ARE MAKING MAPLE SYRUP!!! Come now. Getting excited over a squirrel that has learned most of the alphabet in sign language? Absurd. Getting excited over making maple syrup? Not absurd. ~ karen!

  72. Shirley walker says:

    Hi Karen. We boiled down 30 liters and got 4 small bottles today. It seems to be crystalizing which I guess means we boiled it too long, but the hydromyometer didnèt ever float to the proper level. What is up with that

  73. Matt says:

    This is my 3rd year tapping my two trees, and the first time I’ve found your site. I wish I’d found it the first year. Or the second. But hey, better late than never. First of all, hysterical. Your adventures in maple syruping (I just found out it’s really called “Sugaring”) kept me sane this year (again, so wish I’d found you the last 2). Just finished boiling the first batch this year (started at 530 this morning, it’s now 445pm), and I’ve got just shy of 3 cups. But every year, I ask the same thing – is it supposed to be soooo thin? I let the temperature get to 225F, and it’s still super thin. Don’t want to get it too close to the candy stage, but should I boil it longer still, maybe at a low heat to thicken it up a bit? I know it won’t be “store-bought-thick,” but still.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Matt! Yeah, making maple syrup has a bit of a learning curve, lol. My first couple of years involved a LOT of calls and emails to people who ran professional sugar bushes, lol. Oh! Yes. I’m hysterical. Didn’t want to forget to circle back to that. Honestly, you need a Brix refractometer if you want to be sure of when your maple syrup is done. The thicker it is the higher the sugar concentration obviously. It has to be *just* right to be considered maple syrup, but frankly as long as it tastes like syrup … I started out using an inexpensive glass refractometer like the one in these posts, but last year I upgraded to a digital refractometer and it makes maple syrup season MUCH easier. You just take a little drop of the liquid, put it on the tester pad and it tells you immediately what the Brix level is. no guessing, no pouring from jar to jar, no nothin’. Either way, unless you’re an absolute genius with the spoon drip test you might want to think of getting a refractometer just to make your life easier. 🙂 ~ karen!

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