Maple Syrup

We make maple syrup. Why? Well, it is a fun learning experience for the grandkids, and our family is very concerned about the source of our food supply.

Grandkids and lines

We keep hens so we know where our eggs come from, we have dairy goats for a fresh supply of milk, and our vegetable gardens increase every year.

Which would you like your family to enjoy on their pancakes?

Pure maple syrup or

Store brands containing some combination of high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, liquid sugar, water, salt, cellulose gum, salt, molasses, sorbic acid, sodium benzoate, sodium hexametaphosphate, phosphoric acid, potasium sorbate, citric acid, carmel coloring, natural flavors, natural butter flavor, natural maple flavor, artificial maple flavor, or other artificial flavors

We try to adhere to Michael Pollan‘s theory “Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” 🙂

Sap Pail and lid

Sap Pail and lid

And, what is more natural than getting food from a tree in your yard? Sugaring is a wonderful family experience if you want your children or grandchildren to be closer to their food supply and understand the value and cost of the meals prepared for your table.

Collecting sap from maple trees and making maple syrup dates back to the 1600s when the Native American Indians traded maple syrup and maple sugar with the early European settlers.

New Hampshire maple producers sell around Lowell's Sugar Shack100,000 gallons of pure maple syrup each year at sugarhouses and specialty shops throughout the area.

We are lucky enough to have two very special friends who have a sugarhouse and with their advice and help, this is our second year of tapping our maple trees.

Sugarhouse

Lowell’s Sugarshack, New Hampshire

Sugaring season usually starts in late February or early March when the nights are still below freezing but the days are mild.

In order to tap a maple tree, it must be in good health and at least 10-12 inches in diameter. The larger the tree, the more taps it can support.

A 7/16-inch diameter hole, about 3 inches deep is usually drilled about waist-high on the tree. A spile is tapped into the hole and either a bucket with a lid is attached to the spile or plastic tubing is attached and runs through a line system to a central collection site.

Each tap hole can potentially yield up to ten gallons of sap.

Boiling sap

Maple sap coming directly from the tree is clear and contains approximately 98% water and 2% sugar.

The water needs to be evaporated so the sap is boiled until it reaches seven and a half degrees above boiling point.

At this point it has become maple syrup and contains approximately 33% water and 67% sugar.

It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup making pure maple syrup fairly expensive in comparison to varieties found at the grocery store.

Sugaring season generally lasts from four to six weeks. When new leaves begin to bud on the trees, it is time to shut down for the year, clean the equipment, plan for the next season, and enjoy your maple syrup harvest.

If you want to try it yourself, and I’d highly recommend it, check out Tap My Trees, where you can find practical information and other families commenting about their sugaring adventures.

Sugar on snow - boiled maples syrup drizzled on fresh white snow = delicious Maple taffy candy.

Sugar on snow (boiled maples syrup drizzled on fresh white snow) = delicious Maple taffy candy.

For more information about the interesting history of maple syrup, there is the New Hampshire Maple Producers or the Maple Museum, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello has a historical account of how and why he promoted the use of maple sugar over cane sugar.

On sugaring…

Grandson (7): It’s fun, and I like eating sugar on snow.

Granddaughter (12): It is interesting but making maple syrup takes a lot longer than you think.

————

Linked to My Turn For Us Freedom Friday

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About Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
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19 Responses to Maple Syrup

  1. kate says:

    Maple sugaring is one of the things on my very long list of things I’d like to do when I have house. (Now I live in an apartment, so no maple trees to tap.) It looks like so much fun!

    Like

  2. Great informative post! Your grandchildren will have great memories!

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  3. Joyce says:

    Very interesting. Your grandkids enjoy wonderful learning every day through hands-on experiences that most kids just read about in books.

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  4. Debra says:

    Judy I have never had pure maple syrup in my life. In the grocery store, it is a small fortune. Your posts make me want to try it but if I am going to spend that fortune should I buy it in the store or do you have a supplier friend that sells online ?

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  5. Grandma Kc says:

    I haven’t had real maple syrup in a long time — it really is cost prohibitive! But I do remember the little pails with their roof hanging from the trees along the country roads in Michigan. So wonderful that your grands are getting the opportunity to learn and enjoy all of this!

    Like

  6. I love the idea of local maple syrup. We certainly don’t have that luxury in the UK.

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  7. This is on The Master List of Things I Have To Try At Least Once…no sugar maples on the property, but lots of swamp maple and red maple.
    Up on the main road in town, there’s an old guy who taps his trees every year. He uses old plastic milk jugs to collect the sap…

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  8. Karen says:

    We have a friend that is tapping trees this year so I’m hoping for some wonderful New Hampshire maple syrup before long.

    Like

  9. Amy Tong says:

    What a great experience for the kids. I would love to take them there someday to learn it hands on. My kids watch the maple syrup making process and fascinated. It’ll be super fun for them (and me) to do it for real. 🙂 I love your way of ensuring the food sauce, plant and grow your own is the way to go! I wish I have more space to grow more veggies at my place.

    Like

  10. DoRo says:

    I have nominated you for the versatile blogger award and hope you don’t mind.
    http://doro1k1z.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/prizes-and-awards/

    Like

  11. Julie Snow says:

    So can I really do this with my Autumn Blaze maple tree? How old should it be? And then you just boil the sap down to make syrup? That’s it?

    Like

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