Making maple syrup is often an addictive tradition such that once you do it, you will want to do it over and over. To start with, you need to tap the sap from the maple tree. Tapping is done in the spring season when the nights are below 0 degrees Celsius and the days are beginning to get warmer. This enables the sap to start flowing in the trees.
Maple Tree Tapping
The number of times that a single tree can be tapped depends on the diameter of the tree, its health and rate of growth. A maple tree that has a diameter of around 8 inches or more is suitable for tapping. Larger trees can be tapped more than once for every 20cm increase during the harvest season up to three times maximum in the maple harvest season. The sap is tapped between 12 to 20 days between the months of early March and late April.
To tap the sap, the tree is drilled on the side that receives most light, under a large branch and above a huge root. The hole should be around 30 to 120 cm above the ground and 1.25 cm longer than the tap. Drill the hole at a slightly downward angle. The sap is collected for the next few days and once the containers are full it is transferred to empty containers that are tightly sealed.
Making the syrup
The collected sap is first filtered to remove any sediments, twigs or bugs. The sap is boiled on fire to remove sugar which is only about 2%. You can alternatively use an evaporator. While using the fire, ensure that the flames touch the pans bottom. Fill the pans with sap up to full then continue adding more sap slowly until the pots are full.
The process of syrup making takes long and therefore needs much patience. When you have completed adding all the syrup, check the temperature using a candy thermometer. During the boiling process, it will read 212 degrees Fahrenheit but once most of the water has evaporated it will rise to about 219 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once all the water has evaporated, and the syrup is ready, you filter the settled nitre or sugar sand. Using a piece of cheesecloth, pour the syrup into a big bowl to filter the entire nitre out. Ensure that it is still hot when you are filtering it to avoid it sticking on the cloth. Once this is done, pour the syrup into sterilised containers preferably Glass mason jars and cap the jars immediately. Your syrup is now ready