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If you have read my last blog post, Maple Syrup Part 1, you are dreaming about tapping sugar maples so that you can make your own golden, wonderful maple syrup. But if you find out how to tap a tree and never research anything else about the process, you will end up with buckets of sap and no way to do anything with it. This is where this blog post comes in! We are going to talk about the evaporation process.
Why to Evaporate Your Sap
Maple sap is comprised largely of water, but maple syrup is made up mostly of the sugary substance that is left once you remove the water. And one of the most proven ways to remove water is by evaporation!
You can buy official evaporators and that would probably be the ideal way to take this project on, but most likely you are just starting out and are really just looking to try this out, in which case you should try to keep the price down to a minimum. There are two ways to remove the water from your sap so that you can make maple syrup.
One way would be to boil it out in the kitchen, or on any other stove to which you have access. This is by far the cheapest, easiest way as you will be able to stay inside where it is warm and you won’t have to worry about building any special structure to boil sap on, but there are also some major draw backs to boiling it in your kitchen.
To boil sap out on your stove, just place the sap on one of the burners and let it boil, this will cause the water to separate from the syrup. A thick, white layer should appear on top of the sap; just remove the layer and keep letting the sap boil. Most of the sap consists of water, so the sap will get lower as it boils; keep adding fresh sap to keep a good amount in the pan. If it starts to boil over just, toss a little cream in it and you should notice an almost immediate correction. Once you can check the sap with a candy thermometer and it will read 219 degrees Fahrenheit, you have officially made your first batch of maple syrup! Now all you will need to do is strain it, and put it in bottles or containers…I have more information on that toward the bottom of this page.
Boiling sap in the house really sounds ideal; it’s warm, and you can keep up with your other chores as you wait on your syrup, but there are major drawbacks to this method. Your house might fill with sticky steam that could turn this process into an absolute nightmare as it will make everything in your house sticky…the floor, the furniture, this is why you might really want to consider taking your syrup outside and let your home stay a home.
Evaporating in Your Backyard
Backyard sugaring is the cleanest way to sugar. You don’t have to worry about the damage your sap could be doing if it’s outside! You will need to be prepared in advance and have a lot of dry wood stored back because you will need it as you boil down your sap. You will also need a long-handled wooden spoon to stir with, a candy thermometer, extra large baking pans, and some type of fire pit that you can boil the sap over.
Try to come up with some way you can boil sap out over your pit, such as setting up metal rods with a screen. Also, make sure you will be able to add more wood as needed without having to disturb the sap; don’t cover up your way into the fire with your sap so that you end up with a mess! Now, just set the pan over the fire like you would chicken for a barbeque. Make sure that you have some type rack set up to hold the pan out of the fire. The pan will need to be able to hold over one gallon of sap, so you might want to be looking for a large pan. Fill the pan halfway and stir it occasionally as it boils. As the water comes out of the sap, the liquid inside the pan will get lower; as this happens just add more sap. If you let it get too low the sap will burn.
Try to keep your pit out of the breeze while you are sugaring; if there is a breeze it will take longer to boil out the water. If you are building your fire pit for the purpose of sugaring, try to build it behind a shed or barn so that there will be something to break the breeze. If you are using a pit that you have had set up for a while, consider rigging up some type of shelter or wall to keep the wind from getting to your fire.
Keep checking the sap with the candy thermometer, the same rule that applied to the stove applies to this method. When it reaches 219 degrees Fahrenheit you have had success and completed your task!
It is possible to keep the sap outside until the very end of the boiling process and then bring it inside to finish because it is easier to keep the syrup form boiling over inside that it is out.
Straining Your Syrup
Strain the syrup to remove sugar sand, a grainy calcium product that you won’t want on your pancakes. You can use a strainer lined with thick cloth to stain your syrup; you may have to run the syrup through the strainer several times to make sure you get most of the sugar sand out.
Putting Your Syrup in Jars
Once you are done straining the syrup, put it directly in the jars or containers. Now just seal the jars and you’re done.
As I try to say all the time, I don’t know everything about anything, and this is just to give you the basics. If you are really interested in making your own maple syrup study, read every book, watch every video and learn everything you can know. Make you sugaring system better every year and enjoy every minute of it! If you are interested, here are a few books you can read – they are also affiliate links, so when you buy them here I get paid!
Keep Me Updated
Don’t forget to let me know how your sugaring operation is going by leaving a comment! And feel free to ask any questions you might have!