When maple trees are tapped, the sap they produce is a mixture of water and sugar. In order to get maple syrup to its traditional thick consistency, and to intensify the sweetness, the maple tree sap must be boiled to evaporate the water content. By boiling the sap, you are evaporating the water and bringing the sugar content of the syrup to between 60 and 70 percent. Boiling sap in sugar shacks is a time-intensive process. In order to make a gallon of syrup, you may have to spend all day in your shack, boiling 20 to 30 gallons of sap.
Things You'll Need
- Propane grill or camp stove
- Candy thermometer
- Large stockpot
- Small stockpot
- Wooden spoon
- Canning jars
Fire up your stove and check the boiling point of water. Water boils at different temperatures at different altitudes. Boil a small pot of water on your stove to check the temperature. You will need to boil your maple sap at least seven degrees higher than the boiling point of your water in order to get it to the correct consistency.
Check the ventilation of your sugar shack. Boiling sap produces a large amount of steam, and many sugar shacks have operable windows and a vent in the roof to allow the steam to escape. A lack of ventilation can cause damage to the shack, and make it uncomfortably hot while you are boiling.
Place the large stockpot on the stove and pour in the maple syrup. Insert the candy thermometer into the syrup so that you will be able to constantly monitor the temperature of the syrup. You may want to bring a camp chair into the sugar shack so you have a comfortable place to rest while the sap is boiling.
Skim off any foam that bubbles to the surface. As the sap begins to heat up, you may see foam and other debris rise to the surface of the liquid. Use a wooden spoon to skim off any of this material, taking care not to burn your hands on the sap or the steam.
Pour the boiled syrup into canning jars. It may take several hours for the sap to reach seven degrees above water's boiling point. However, once it has, pour off the syrup into canning jars and immediately add more to the pot.
- Photo Credit maple syrup shed image by Pierrette Guertin from Fotolia.com