Sunday, March 20, 2016

Making Your Own Maple (Boxelder) Syrup

Making your own maple syrup is easier than you probably think.  All you need are at least a handful of maple-type trees, cold nights, and warmish days.  This works perfectly for a few weeks in late Winter/early Spring in New England.  Okay, so it probably won’t work if you don’t live in a similar environment to New England, but if you ever visit someone who does, talk them into trying it!

The end of February into March starts to warm up during the day, and stays cold at night, this is ideal for drilling trees for sap.  Maple is ideal, of course, and we use a few Boxelders and Maples in our yard.  Boxelders are a maple-like tree and produces good-quality syrup, but sugar maple would probably be the best to try.  Boxelders also come with these cute little red and black insects that are totally harmless but love the trees and end up in your house in the winter endlessly wandering until the weather warms in Spring.  We used to have more trees, and get much less syrup than we did years ago.  Those who don’t live in a city should have more opportunities to get more sap than we do.

After determining the ideal temperature change for sap to flow, drill a few inches with a thick drill-bit, and hammer a tap into your chosen trees.  The tap is a short metal tube that brings the sap from the tree to the surface, into a bucket (we use clean gallon milk cartons), which hangs on a built-in hook.

There should be several cups of sap per tree collected once or twice a day, and sometimes more.  The best times to check the buckets are when the warmest part of the day is over.  Then you bring in the sap, and strain it multiple times (coffee filter on a strainer is slow, but works well), before pouring the sap into a large pot to simmer for several hours.  KEEP AN EYE ON THE POT!  It can easily boil over, and you will need to watch it for the next steps in the process.  Be sure to skim the surface of the pot continually with a ladle with holes, as foam will develop.

I adore the scent of boiling sap.  It needs to be made into a candle from a quality candle maker.  It's fresh and slightly sweet, but also slightly woody, and totally addicting.

Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of the syrup, but you should be able to figure out it is ready by the deep amber color and syrupy consistency.  To can, you simply take clean canning jars and their lids and boil them for a few seconds, then remove from the boiling water with tongs and pour the hot syrup into the canning jars and screw on the lids.  Within a few minutes, the lids would make a "pop", and be totally flat on top.  There are many resources on canning if you need more guidance.  Good luck and happy syruping!

No comments:

Post a Comment