Its Maple Syruping time again!

By: TheShovler3 , 4:21 AM GMT on January 29, 2008

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UPDATE 2.3.08

A four tap tree at the farm is pictured below.

Sap collecting vehicle for the farm. Carries 80 gallons at a time.

Another large tree at the farm poses for the camera.

Sap Streams from the tap into the bucket! Crystal Clear just as it should be.

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Hello everyone! Its about time for me to start tapping the Maple trees and boiling down the sap!


For anyone looking to start here or anyone just curious about what it takes. Here is a little thing i put together.

Things to remember about when, what and how to make Maple Syrup.

Maple Tree
Bucket (5gallon plastic pail)
Pan for boiling(outdoor is best as stovetop can get messy quick)
Filter (cheese cloth or a cloth cone filter from

What is Maple Syrup? Maple Syrup is a thick liquid substance made from the sap of a Sugar Maple tree.

How is it made: Maple Syrup is made from sap that comes out looks opaque and just like water but tastes slightly sweet. This is because it contains only around 2% sugars. The sap is then taken to a boiler where the water is extracted until it reaches 66.7% sugar and reaches a temperature of 7degrees above the boiling point of water. This is where sap becomes Syrup. A good rule of thumb is take the sap sugar percentage which can be measured by a hydrometer and divide that into the number 86 and this will tell you how many gallons of sap it will take to make one gallon of syrup. In generally its takes 40-45 gallons of sap per gallon of syrup.

Tapping: Pay attention to the weather when tapping, it’s a crucial aspect. (see weather section) Taps usually last about a month; this can be extended by dipping the drill bit and tap in rubbing alcohol right before inserting them in the tree. Trees that are 8” or lager in diameter may be tapped. Trees that are over 18” can handle two taps spaced out to the right or left of the other tap, and trees over 24” can take 3 taps. Tap on the south side of the tree as this is where the tree receives the most sunlight allowing for rapid warming. Place the drill bit chest high to the tree and drill steadily at a slightly upward angle no more than .75” into the tree for the first drill(tip: take a piece of tape and wrap it around the bit at.75” you will know that you when you hit that mark when the tape starts dragging on the tree.) Clean the hole out from the debris and insert the tap and gently tap it in until snug. If you have a spout with a bucket hook, hook the bucket to the tap and cover it and attach the tubing to the spile and drop through a snug hole in the top of the bucket. If no hook. Place the bucket on the ground at the base of the tree and attach a longer piece of tubing from the spile to the bucket. If the hole runs dry you may take the tap out and re-drill the hole .25” deeper to create new flow. Clean the hole, bit and tap with the rubbing alcohol again. This is it no more than a total of 1” into the tree or else the holes may not heal properly.

Collecting: in general it is best to collect all sap on a daily bases and to store it in a tank until you can boil. Sap spoils quickly and once it does so the syrup will taste bad. If you can’t boil right away put the sap in a tank and pile snow around it to keep it cold. As long as sap stays around 40 or below you should get 3-4 days of storage life out of it. If buckets get dirty through the season take them down and wash them. When dirty they allow sap to spoil faster. This is very important during the season.

Boiling: if you can boil the same day you collect that’s awesome. If not store it up for a full days work. Boiling takes a long time and a lot of patients. It is important to filter the sap before it enters your boiler. Additionally, as its boiling never leave the pot or boiler unattended bad things can happen. Monitor the syrup consistency with a thermometer and the hydrometer, once it reaches syrup the viscosity of the bubbles will change rapidly and can potentially boil over leaving a huge mess. Furthermore, once it reaches syrup it can reach the rock candy stage quickly. If this happens, you won’t know it until the syrup has cooled. Rock candy crystals will slowly form along the sides and bottoms of the jar, spoiling your hard work. I have done this a couple of times. Filter the finished syrup hot, it’s much less dense and goes through the filter easier. The biggest rules are to constantly watch it and be careful; it can burn you very badly. (Tip. I like to keep a bucket of sap around just in case things start to get too hot and sticky in the boiler, if it starts to get too dense too quick I dump fresh sap in and it can save the syrup.)

Canning/ Bottling: When the syrup is finished make sure you hot back sterile jars at 170-190 degrees for a good seal. Mason jars work well for the home producer. Un-refrigerated and unopened they should stay for years if packaged correctly. If you want to be safe refrigerated the syrup and you will be fine. If your jars look cloudy it’s okay, everything will settle out to the bottom and it’s perfectly fine for you to consume… after all its part of the natural process.

Weather: Ideal tapping weather is when days are 40’s-50’s and nights are in the 20’s this allows the trees to produce large amounts of sap. If the day is not warm enough the trees won’t run, if it stays warm for a period of time the trees may shut down and start using the sugars for leaf production (generally the end of the season) if this happens mid-season a long cold snap will put the trees back in syrup making stage. If sap is yellow it can mean a few things: the tree is sick, rainwater mixed off the bark or the season is ending. If you are a home producer this sap is usually worthless as it will make bitter syrup. If a large producer, boiling this to syrup will make grade C which can be sold in bulk for use in maple flavored products.



It takes four maple trees, at least 40 years old, growing in the mountain “sugarbush” to yield enough sap in six weeks to produce one gallon of maple syrup.

It takes a “tapping crew” to climb the mountain in snow, lugging buckets, taps and a drill to tap the trees to make syrup.

It takes a “gathering crew” to climb the mountains daily during February and March to collect the dripping sap and haul it down to the “sugarhouse.”

It takes forty gallons of sap, boiled down in the “evaporator” to concentrate the sweet sap-water into one gallon of syrup.

It takes a four foot log, sawed, split, dried and burned in the raging fire in the “arch” under the evaporator for each gallon of syrup produced.

It takes 3 people to continually fire the arch, operate the evaporator and sterilize, filter, grade and pack each gallon of syrup.

It takes the entire sugarmaker’s family 1 week to wash the buckets, taps, and equipment for the fallowing year.

SO - if you had to climb the mountain, tap the trees, haul the sap, cut the wood, stoke the fires, pack the syrup, and clean the equipment, how much would you ask for a gallon of Pure Maple Syrup?

Pictures and updates coming soon! Hopefully tomorrow by mid afternoon!

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28. irolpat
2:26 AM GMT on September 02, 2008
Tapping maple tree is easier than most people think. It is a great way to teach your children about nature. For those looking for equipment and a guide to tap a few trees at home, take a look at
27. TheShovler3
3:42 PM GMT on February 06, 2008
boiling early this morning went well, for the time being. I processed about half of it before i got too tired. we got almost an 1" of rain this morning. Now its lulled so i'll go back up and work on it some more.
Member Since: December 9, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2579
26. donnie
10:45 AM GMT on February 06, 2008
Thanks for the info. re. maple syrup. Yes, it helps in my understanding of the early flow. I'm in NEPA, Pleasant Mount. (Sorry, I forgot to check back until now).
Member Since: October 20, 2002 Posts: 16 Comments: 105
25. TheShovler3
5:26 AM GMT on February 06, 2008
well it didn't really get fired up til close to midnight so i'll be up here for a couple hours. then head to bed before the rain moves in
Member Since: December 9, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2579
24. TheShovler3
3:33 AM GMT on February 06, 2008
Its 1030 pm est and im' heading up to the boiler to boil away on some sap that i collected today... approximately 170 gallons i believe
Member Since: December 9, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2579
23. WeatherQuesting
2:53 AM GMT on February 06, 2008
That was really interesting, Shovler. I always wondered about maple syrup, and now I know. I can see why you might charge a bundle --- what it's worth.
Member Since: July 1, 2007 Posts: 18 Comments: 115
22. MNTornado
1:24 PM GMT on February 04, 2008

Member Since: July 1, 2005 Posts: 160 Comments: 19327
21. TheShovler3
5:01 AM GMT on February 03, 2008
Donnie, let me know if that answers you're question if not i'll get back to you. Where do you reside in maple country?
Member Since: December 9, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2579
20. TheShovler3
4:58 AM GMT on February 03, 2008
Tapped 150 today with 100 more to do tomorrow, sap was beautifully clear and had a sugar content of 2.2% on the hydrometer. Looks like a good season ahead of us. I might even be boiling tomorrow as the first tree i tapped today had 2 gallons of sap in the bucket 3 hrs after tapping it.
Member Since: December 9, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2579
19. TheShovler3
4:55 AM GMT on February 03, 2008

The temp is critical to sap flow we really catch most of the sap as its coming back down and preparing for the impending cold weather at night. If it doesn't get below freezing for a few days the tree will shut off and the sap will stay up in the branches... the warmer it gets the more likely the sugars will now start the Photosynthesis process.

Early season generally allows you to make your lighter syrups (fancy grade A) this is due to the quality of the sugar and the sugar percentage. Generally speaking the sugar is at its peak in the beginning of the season. The higher the sugar content the less time it spends cooking and that gives you lighter syrup. The opposite is true for later in the season. However, a cold snap in the middle of the season can reset the tree and allow you to make more light syrup.

In extreme late seasons when temps are rather warm and the trees do begin making leafs sap will still run but it will be the most bitter syrup you have tasted, i use it in glazes sometimes but even then its best to sell that in bulk which the extract the maple flavor for "maple flavored products"

I prefer the hardier darker syrups as it has a more robust maple flavor.

Try a light coating in the bottom of a glass then fill it with milk and stir... nice refreshing drink and can get kids to drink milk regularly.

Later in the season we'll talk recipes i've got a few good ones.
Member Since: December 9, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2579
18. donnie
12:15 AM GMT on February 03, 2008
Wow, that is a lot of work. You couldn't get a fair price for the good stuff. Real maple syrup is the only syrup for me. A neighbor taps the local trees and has been quite successful in making a good syrup. I buy some for home, family and friends; plus a couple samplers for the local restaurants for when I want french toast or pancakes. It's really good on ice cream too!
Could you explain the difference between the early tap and the later? I've forgotten why the timing is so critical. Seems to me that one thing is a higher water content and something to do with the water coming back down the tree at night.
Member Since: October 20, 2002 Posts: 16 Comments: 105
17. redagainPatti
11:12 PM GMT on February 01, 2008
I dont know.. things are running differently this year, I only have a third of the kids right now for eleven weeks then I get the other group. In a few weeks, I will get the last batch of students. SO.. if I do this.. I will be able to do it with ONLY a third of the students.
Last year I had ALL of them.. and my day (instead of the year like it is now) was in thirds as they came only one day a week to us but stayed with the gifted teachers ALL day. So I could do the seasonly projects with no problem.

Right now we have them all together with one of our rooms working on a science project. hummm.. that might make a good blog...
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 123 Comments: 1520
16. TheShovler3
7:45 PM GMT on February 01, 2008
Palm, I'm itchin to start the weather just won't cooperate with me.

Learning should be as fun as it can be all the time!
Member Since: December 9, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2579
15. palmettobug53
7:11 PM GMT on February 01, 2008
I was wondering when you'd pop back up with your sugaring blog! I really did enjoy last year's. Though I knew something in general about sugaring, I learned a lot more of the details and work involved.

Hi, Patti! Going to teach this year's batch of young'uns all about the fine art of sugaring? LOL By all accounts, I think last year's group enjoyed it. It made learning fun!
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 244 Comments: 25852
14. TheShovler3
8:11 PM GMT on January 31, 2008
So hoops are going well? our team suffered our first set back lastnight, but all is good we just played terrible in the first half but we'll get em next time around My midrange jumper could use a little work but the long range is money.

Hmm.. maple snow... i wonder how that would work? run maple sap through a snow making machine...the sweet treat it would make!
Member Since: December 9, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2579
13. HeavySnow
7:06 PM GMT on January 31, 2008
My winter definitely needs salvaging. My jumper, not so much.
I need snow, maple snow will do.
Member Since: July 7, 2004 Posts: 18 Comments: 2998
12. TheShovler3
7:02 PM GMT on January 31, 2008
We need snow here too Heavy, seems as if winter came and left awhile ago, snow pack is virtually gone at my house. However, you need a bit more than i do to salvage this winter
Member Since: December 9, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2579
11. HeavySnow
6:41 PM GMT on January 31, 2008
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmaple shovler!
I need snow. It's tapping weather here, just no maple trees.
Member Since: July 7, 2004 Posts: 18 Comments: 2998
10. TheShovler3
1:44 PM GMT on January 31, 2008
Thats fantastic red! I too don't use white sugar much anymore. I substitute maple syrup in its place mostly. For a morning drink i mix a little in my milk. For a glaze on my carrots, in granola bars instead of corn syrup as a binding agent, and on my meats as a marinade.... maple Jalapeno BBQ sauces is pretty darn good

o sadly guys i won't be tapping until Saturday now... i woke up to a chilly 10 degrees and a forecast that is only to 31 today (which was 45 three days ago) As i've learned over the years, the only thing you can really rely on during the day is that it will get dark, everything else is up in the air. Tomorrow looks nasty here with Snow at first then a lot of ice and then rain... Yuck, thats not tapping weather at all! I'm gonna head out and take some pictures of the new stuff later today to keep everyone entertained.
Member Since: December 9, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2579
9. redagainPatti
11:13 AM GMT on January 31, 2008
well I will share - you guys have to set the money aside to get a sample or small jug of each grade made. I loved going from the fancy to the dark cooking Maple Syrup. My meat, soups, teas, and even ice cream tasted so much better this year since I order a good supply of the stuff. I just about stop using white sugar this past year. It was only used when I had folks over and they wanted it for the coffee or tea.
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 123 Comments: 1520
8. TheShovler3
3:12 AM GMT on January 31, 2008
In the mean time while i dont have any pictures until tomorrow i'll post my mini guide to maple syrup sugaring in a few min.
Member Since: December 9, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2579
7. MaryEstherFLA
1:10 AM GMT on January 31, 2008
Yay! Maple syrup? Is it that time already? I really enjoyed your blog last year... looking forward to the pix from this year.
Member Since: August 4, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 1190
6. Skyepony (Mod)
12:57 AM GMT on January 31, 2008
So what is the ideal weather conditions?
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 272 Comments: 40552
11:49 PM GMT on January 30, 2008
I so enjoyed your blog last year. Look forward to Mapleing 2008!
Member Since: July 13, 2005 Posts: 117 Comments: 5223
4. WxWyz
10:28 PM GMT on January 30, 2008
That sounds interesting, I'll be checking.
There's nothing better than 100% pure maple syrup!
3. TheShovler3
9:14 PM GMT on January 30, 2008
good good, I didn't tap yesterday as it didn't get to 46 as they said rather it only got to 33 which is too cold to tap the trees and today it was rainy. I hope for tomorrow. I have everything else set up!
Member Since: December 9, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2579
2. GardenGrrl
11:26 AM GMT on January 30, 2008
Maple Syrup making...hmmmm definitely have piqued my curiosity. Will watch for updates. Have fun.
Member Since: March 25, 2007 Posts: 276 Comments: 10558
1. redagainPatti
10:02 AM GMT on January 30, 2008
Will be checking in to see what new equipment you got.
Life down here has been busy for me but I will be looking you up to see how things are going. I have a new batch of students as you know.. and they dont know ANYTHING about sugaring...
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 123 Comments: 1520

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