How to Boil Maple Syrup at Home

March 16, 2010

in Appetizers & Misc., DIY & Crafts, Other Homesteading Skills, Recipes

I’m back! Did you miss me? Well, I’ve been spending all my spare moments out collecting sap, or getting garden beds ready – or grading papers, but let’s not discuss that.

Anyway, since Sofya has already explained how to tap maple trees for sap, I’ll provide the basic guidelines for boiling it down into syrup.

Not that you really need guidelines, because, really, when we started doing this about 25 years ago we had no idea what we were doing, and this was back before google and stuff, so…well, my sister and I saw these inexplicable droplets forming on the tips of broken maple-boughs, and when mum told us it was maple sap, we got a notion to try making syrup. So, I pounded a teensy hole in the side of a tree with a hammer and a screwdriver; then we inserted the hollow stick from a blow-pop which we happened to have about, and hung a little cup under it. A day later we had about a cup of sap, which we put in a pan on the woodstove and cooked down into about 1/2 tsp sugar. So exciting! But then dad got in on the syrup-making thing, and made some proper taps, and tapped fifteen trees or so. From then on, spring in our house meant there was a perpetual cast-iron pot filled with steaming, sticky sap on the stove; the walls sometimes sweated with it.

Since then I have waxed scientific – which means, I google things. So here are some important tips that will allow you to have not just maple syrup or sugar, but GOOD maple syrup:

1) Black maples and sugar maples produce sap with a higher sugar content than red or silver maples, but you can use any maple tree, really.

2) Last year we got four pints of syrup from only two trees – but they are large, over 100 years old.

3) However, red and silver maples also bud earlier than black or sugar maples.

4) Why is this a problem? Well, because once the buds begin to form, the sap takes on an odd bitter taste that you won’t notice until it has been boiled down to syrup. It is on account of this “bud-flavored” sap that I, for many years, thought I didn’t actually much care for real maple syrup. Now I know better!

5) Strain, strain, strain your sap! Strain it first before you boil it; then strain it again once it starts to darken. Various invisible particles of impurity will begin to be visible as you cook it down; these not only impair the appearance; they also detract from the flavor. Oh, and you will want to get the flies out. There will always be flies, I’m afraid.

6) Use cheesecloth, preferably, to strain: I put mine inside a colander. You can also use nylon stockings.  Many fabrics will not work, though, as they retard the moisture, instead of allowing it to seep through. If you think you have a workable loose-mesh fabric, experiment with it first with water.

7) Pour into a LARGE, preferably LARGE SURFACE AREA pot. Stainless steel or enamel are best, I think. Much as I love cast iron, I find that it imparts a slightly metallic flavor to the syrup.

8) If you are doing this outside, over an open fire, good for you! But a few things to consider:

a) not every pot was made to withstand direct flame. You may end up at best spoiling your pot, at worst spoiling your pot AND your sap.

b) DO NOT NOT NOT USE A WASHTUB! IT IS MADE OF GALVANIZED STEEL, AND COULD FLAKE OFF INTO THE SAP, UNDER HIGH HEAT. Excuse the capital letters and the melodrama, but in case you’re just skimming this thing I wanted to make sure you saw that, so you don’t go holding me responsible if you come to a bad end.

c) You will still want to finish off the sap indoors, once you’ve gotten lots of it cooked down and it’s turned a lovely golden-brown.

9) If you are doing this inside, we found that a large broiling pan (steel or enamel) sitting over two burners is the way to go. But we still finished it off in a separate, smaller pot. Also, be advised: the house will grow very humid! Which is fine with me, as I am essentially a creature of the tropics. But you might want to get a de-humidifier going.

10) As it boils, scum will rise to the top. Scoop this off with a slotted spoon or small sieve.

11) Gradually, it will turn a pale gold – then perhaps a dark gold – and finally, maybe, a maple-syrupy-copper-mahogany shade.

12) The  darker the syrup the stronger the flavor – yet, oddly, the light-colored syrups are considered the highest grade, and cost the most (well over a dollar an ounce). I think this may be because it is harder to get; this year, our earlier sap produced a thick, pale golden syrup, while the later saps made a darker syrup. However, I am waiting, now that the sap has started running again (it slowed there for a while when the nights were warm) to see whether it has to do ith outdoor temperature, not earliness or lateness.

13) Since it take about 40 gallons (or, if you have black or sugar maples, 37) to make one gallon of syrup, you want to boil a LOT. So, as your sap cooks down, keep adding more and more. You’ll need to have at least an inch at the bottom, still, towards the end, for your thermometer to register.

14) Why thermometer? Because the best way to tell whether your sap has become syrup is for you to boil it to JUST the right heat. That’s 220 degrees. You will want either a cool digital thermometer like Sofya’s, or an old-fashioned candy thermometer like mine. It has to be able to sit IN the sap, so an ordinary thermometer will NOT do.

15) By the way, almost EVERY site I checked for advice on how hot to get my sap just coyly said “seven degrees past the boiling point of water.” But I am telling you without all that rigmarole: 220 degrees! Even though seven degrees past the boiling point of water is actually 219…I think that extra degree gives an added depth and viscosity to the syrup, which is most appealing. Now, aren’t I nice, to be telling you that?

16) IN case you DON’T have a candy thermometer (and we never used one, ever, back in the days of yore), you can tell when your syrup is nearly syrup when it starts to really foam and bubble wildly. Then, wait a few minutes, regularly testing your syrup by dropping a bit of it on a cool plate, and seeing whether it is the right consistency.

17) It helps to stir during this time, but it’s not necessary, if you have a good stainless steel or enamel pot.

18) Once it has finished, remove from heat. Let it cool a bit and strain it again.

19) Store in a glass or plastic container ( we use mason jars) in the fridge . It will stay fresh and good for about six months.

20) Scrape the pot with a spoon and eat the sugary bits, especially if you have given up sugar for Lent and are doing this just because you hate to see things go to waste, or because you don’t consider maple sugar to be the sort of sugar you’re talking about, or just because you forgot, and didn’t remember until it was too late. Oops!

This post is featured in the 36th Edition of Simple Life Thursdays.


1 Catherine March 16, 2010 at 9:41 pm

GREAT post! I WAS wondering why you hadn’t posted for a while, but I should have known… :)

I never understood why the light stuff was a higher grade — to me it never tasted quite genuinely like real maple syrup, just like watery wet stuff. But then, I like blackstrap molasses from a spoon (in moderation), so maybe I just have no finer sensibilities.

2 Sofya March 16, 2010 at 10:06 pm

My mother in law also cans it and processes it in a hot water bath, and then it keeps for over a year.

And another tip – if the sap is about ready to boil over (this matters with very shallow pans, like that of my in-law’s evaporator), a couple of drops of cream/half’n’half will break the surface tension and reduce the foaming considerably.

3 Jason and Steve March 16, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Wow! This looks fantastic. No maple sap for us here in San Francisco, but we can live vicariously, right?

Steve & Jason

4 Sofya March 16, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Right! I am living vicariously through Rebecca myself right now!

5 Cassandr March 12, 2011 at 9:00 am

Glad to see another blogger out there talking about important stuff!! Thanks for the tip about 220 degrees. I am boiling down syrup as we speak and was looking for a plain spoken, real world explanation of when the syrup is “done”. Going to add you to my blog roll!! Thanks again. :)

6 yolanda turner March 12, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Thanks for the info. The advice about 220 degrees came in handy as we were boiling our sap as we read your entry. This is our first year “sugaring” and our first batch turned to candy because we boiled too long and to too high a temperature. This batch looked watery, but we are taking your advice and just took it off the stove. Still looks watery, but the residue in the bowl we poured it into before filling the bottles is looking like syrup. So, I think we may have a winner. Keeping our fingers crossed.

7 Sofya March 13, 2011 at 10:04 am

Glad it worked for you! Thanks to my friend Rebecca for writing this useful post.

8 Jane Petrik July 3, 2011 at 10:03 am

I recently bought some maple syrup from friends of ours and the syrup is very watery, can I reboil this syrup to make it thicker? I appreciate your advice. We bought 2 half gallons! Thanks for any advice. Jane Petrik

9 Sofya July 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Yes, you can reduce it by boiling it some more. Simmer it until it hits the right temperature (indicated in this post), corresponding to the usual thickness for maple syrup. If it tries to boil over (foam comes up too high), just drip a couple of drops of cream or half & half into it and that will settle it. Repeat as needed. You need a candy thermometer for that (or whichever goes up to that temp).

In fact, when my family boils syrup in their wood-powered outdoor evaporator, they always take it off early and finish it in big pots in the house on the gas stove to reduce it to just the right temp/viscosity. They can better control the final stages of reduction this way.

10 Sara March 22, 2012 at 10:38 am

We used to use butter to calm the cauldron of wild foam. It was amazing, just a tiny amount would quiet a massive vat of writhing bubbles and bring it down to a manageable level… Have you ever tried butter or oil?

11 Sofya March 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm

We use heavy cream because it’s easy to drip a few drops and it’s pourable – butter and cream both do the same thing – the fat breaks the surface tension and so your bubbles go down. Never tried oil.

12 tom March 6, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Hey, thanks for the post. I just started cooking some sap down on the wood stove today and was wondering if it’s ok to start and stop the boiling process. In other words…the stove will go out over night and I’ll start another fire in the morning. Does this stuff need to be consistently boiling until it’s done? Can I take the stuff, put it in the fridge and bring it back out in the morning and start again?

13 Sofya March 6, 2013 at 8:22 pm

I believe it’s fine…

14 brite March 7, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Thanks so much for this article. I’ve had a blast reading through many other entries, and it’s always fun to find people living a similar lifestyle. Great writing and pictures. I am going to try your bread recipe tomorrow (along with tackling my first 40 gallons of sap).
brite recently posted..Real Food for Mother and Baby: a book review, part 2My Profile

15 Sofya March 7, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Thanks for stopping by!

16 Mariagrows March 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Thank you for easy directions. I been thinking of sugaring since we bought this property last June and have been preparing ever since. I just collected my first couple of gallons of sap and started boiling, it’s already down by 1/2 in four hours sothis was great so I know how to finish it. Thank You

17 Fred March 10, 2013 at 10:49 pm

We are only tapping a few tree’s and are getting around 6-8 gallons of sap a day. To keep our sap from spoiling until we get 50 or 60 gallons to boil, we are keeping it in our upright freezer in our barn and are rapidly running out of space. I am wondering if we could boil batches of 15-20 gallons down to maybe 10 or 12 and then put it back into the freezer to conserve room. Once we get several “boiled down” batches, then we can start the final boiling process down to the syrup stage. Would this adversely affect the final product by stopping the process, then beginning again a few days later ? Thank you for your help.

18 Sofya March 12, 2013 at 11:43 am

I have never done this… so I can’t provide an expert opinion. I kind of think it should be fine. Google it some more?

19 Mariagrows March 13, 2013 at 1:38 pm

May I comment on this.. I have five trees tapped and was freezing til I had enough but I got to excited to start so I thawed it and just boiled to down til it would fit in a quart canning jar I kept doing that until I had a few in the fridge then I put them all together and boiled until it reache 220( great advise thanks). I ended up doing this 3 times and have so far ended up with 4 cups of syrup ( my family ate one cup before it cooled but the others I put in a hot water bath and boile them for 20 min and waited for the pop then just put them in the pantry. The taste is good and Sofya you are right the more times I filtered it the clearer the end product, just so every one knows I filtered it hot and thin through coffe filters it would not drain through a coffe filter after it had reaced 220

20 Helen April 4, 2013 at 9:54 pm

We have strained our syrup through coffee filters too…but at a very low setting (200-220 degrees) in the oven. A tedious task, but with a wide mouth funnel and close pins to hold the filter in place, we put the funnel in the pint jar, place the jar on a cookie sheet (in case of spillage) and ladle the syrup into the filter’d funnel. Put it in the oven for a while and continue to add syrup until either the filter is clogged or the jar is full, changing the filter as needed. Our kids like the “sap-pops” they can suck on (the cooled, used filters). Don’t suck too hard or long or they will get the sandy-like taste from the filtered elements that make the unfiltered syrup cloudy and gritty.

21 Sofya April 5, 2013 at 8:34 am

I make maple snow taffy or maple hard candy for that purpose. The hard candy is made with the addition of water and white sugar.

22 Carol March 11, 2013 at 8:57 am

I over boiled my sap and now it’s to thick. Can I do something to thin it out?

23 Sofya March 12, 2013 at 11:44 am

Heat it up again till hot and flowing and thin with a bit of water. This is not an expert opinion but this is what I would do.

24 Fred March 15, 2013 at 11:09 pm

I always add some more sap until it thins out.

25 Wendy March 12, 2013 at 10:04 pm

So helpful! We just boiled our first 15 gallons. Your post was a great reference! Thanks!

26 Eva March 16, 2013 at 1:13 am

Oh … 220F … that explains a lot. My first go at sugaring produced maple sugar! Heavenly, divine! Treasure! I guess because the temperature I recorded was 250 F. I am totally thrilled about this process, have all the first-timers excitement, and yes, gals can figure it out for themselves. I’m in total awe about nature, so much to learn from this process. I started tapping in the waxing moon, makes sense, and boil down now .. ha, the saying ‘what it all boils down to’ really make sense now. Fill into smaller bottles during waning moon, this acts as a preservative. Today collected 10 gallons! Ten! On 9 trees, only 2 real big. The more I learn, the more questions I have. This viscosity thing … when’s a syrup a syrup? I test, stir it down, stir it down again. As a beginner, with a feeling for the materials I’m working with … am I best advised to just turn off the gas at 220F ? Does that stuff get more syrupy in its cold state? Do we know? Can you (guessing you shouldn’t) reheat syrup? Is sugar content important to measure? Could be fun. I’m just thrilled about the whole process.

27 Sofya March 16, 2013 at 8:43 am

Yes, remove it from heat at 220F. Yes, syrup obviously thickens as it cools. Obviously sugar content is important, it’s determines the viscosity (sugar to water ratio). Yes, you can reheat it – I often reheat it and then reduce it to make a multitude of candies and frostings. Try “maple snow taffy” from my site.

28 Eva March 20, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Thank you!

29 Brent March 20, 2013 at 4:46 pm

This is my third year of boiling. I don’t know why some have “hot bathed” syrup. When it is all boiled down, and you have sterilized the jars and lids, the hot syrup is put covers put on.
The covers will “pop”as they cool.

30 Sofya March 20, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Not always. You are risking some lids popping open in storage. I’ve canned many things for many years and this is my experience.

31 Eva March 20, 2013 at 9:56 pm

I’m still boiling … sap. All lids pop as they cool and so far all stay sealed. The 220F was the best tip ever. I can actually smell it now when it’s about ready. It just doesn’t go over 220F much, good to experiment and know the importance of 220F cut-off point. After that I’m making sugar, which I did with one lot as the sugar tastes so heavenly. The color of the syrup here is a deep rich gold, not brown. I filter through a cloth, and also a stainless steel filter with insert that has fine holes. Any useful ideas? Because there is a little sediment. Home-made maple syrup on oatmeal, yoghurt, etc. is a new beyond-my-wildest -expectations-good treat!

32 Sofya March 21, 2013 at 7:02 am

The color I believe varies with the weather conditions. If the sap was running in warm weather, the syrup will be darker, and lighter if in cold weather.

All working with sugar has to be done to precise temperatures. I make various types of candy, and also a variety of treats that require the reduction of the syrup to soft-ball stage (frostings, etc), so I can tell with certainty that it doesn’t take more than a few degrees difference to ruin the product.

Have you ever tried any of these:

33 Eva March 29, 2013 at 1:28 am

Interesting! We’re now also boiling over an open fire outside. The trees are so generous. Today made very dark syrup. Husband had started the process, at some stage we transfer the pot inside, I finished the process, and later discovered that gas was set not at maximum setting. It just did not want to get hotter. I read that constant heat is important, is it? I turned up the heat, this time without transferring to smaller pot, as the liquid looked fine and very clean. Introduced a problem by using two thermometers, small disparity. Stuck to the one I regularly use, the beautiful liquid was evaporating before my eyes … and foaming … which I stirred down. As you say … a few degrees difference can ruin the whole work. Another issue of interest is filtering. The oldtimers used wool, I hear? I found too much filtering wasn’t beneficial. If I filter 3-4 times through a cotton cloth, I get clear syrup. If I filter more, results were less clear. Hm.

34 Jerry April 5, 2013 at 9:12 am

Eva, I think that constant heat is helpful but not necessary at all. As the sap gets thicker, when I’m finishing it inside on the stove, I reduce the gas flame as I get closer to syrup. The final stage happens quickly, and I don’t want to go beyond 220º ( I have, maple candy!).
I use orlon as a filter, rubber-banded to the mason jar filler (like a big funnel). Orlon was recommended on a couple sites I googled. Available at fabric stores, it is a finer filter than cheesecloth and stands up better than coffee filters. I rinse with hot water, and reuse the orlon indefinitely.

35 Paul March 21, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Hello Sofya, Thanks for the info about maple syrup. A co-worker said he was thinking about doing it and he got me interested. Although it’s a little late in the season I wanted to try it anyway. So far I’ve boiled 3 batches. Each batch starts with a little over 2 gallons of sap. The first time it came out very good. Very dark but delicious ( with a slight bitterness ). But the last two times weren’t so good. Both times it came out thick and pasty ( almost solid ) and it was the color of raw honey. It tasted nice but it wasn’t syrup. I’m guessing I got lucky on the first try. I wasn’t using a thermometer. I tried to do it ” by eye ” . HELP ! Am I right in assuming that the temperature was too high ? Why did it come out the consistency of a thick paste ? I’m boiling it in a turkey roaster on an electric stove. Would it be easier to finish it in a smaller pot ? Any info would be greatly appreciated :-)

36 Sofya March 21, 2013 at 7:43 pm

That’s cause you didn’t use a thermometer – and you can’t make syrup without one. A syrup is only syrup when it’s boiled to one particular temperature, and one only (219-220). And yes, people often finish it in smaller pots.

37 Robert March 26, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Interesting web site. I stumbled across it while searching for information on making maple syrup. This is my first time trying and I’m starting a bit late in the season, but I’m hoping to make a full gallon of the stuff to share with some friends and family. :)

There’s just one item you mention that I have to comment on. You say to ignore the whole “boiling point +7 degrees” thing and just boiling your syrup until it’s 220 degrees. Well, there’s actually a very good reason why they say boiling point+7 and not 220!

The boiling point of water is dependent on atmospheric pressure. Which is dependent on altitude. (It’s also dependent on weather… Or rather, weather is dependent on pressure fronts… So a low pressure system in your area means that bad weather is coming AND that water boils at a tiny bit lower temperature!) So, if you live at a higher altitude, you have a lower atmospheric pressure… And water boils at less than 212 degrees. As a rough rule of thumb, for every 1000 feet of elevation, water boils at about 2 degrees lower.

So if someone from, say, Denver (~5000ft elevation, so water boils at ~202) went by your directions and waited until their syrup was boiling at 220 degrees, they would be about 18 degrees above the boiling point of water, instead of 7… Which I imagine means they’re be well on their way to maple CANDY instead of SYRUP. :)

Mind you, I don’t think there are many maple trees in Denver, so I doubt it’s an issue. But if you’re living halfway up a mountain and I’m trying to make maple syrup down at sea level, we might have a little problem. Which is why they specify boiling point of water +7.

And so ends todays science lesson! My apologies if you found it boring. But I’m a chemist, and I just couldn’t help myself. :)

38 Sydney February 22, 2014 at 7:47 am

I’m so glad you said this as I had the same thoughts! I’m an engineer so I approach all my homesteading projects from a scientific perspective :-)

39 Sue & Clete April 3, 2013 at 12:37 am

We cook our sap down in two electric roasters, a 16 qt & an 8 qt. When we have it reduced it from fourty gals to about 7 gals we finish it in the house on the stove. works well. We have an old cream strainer that works well for straining, paper towels for the pads. Just put 13 pints in jars, yummy.

40 Sofya April 3, 2013 at 10:36 am

My in-laws do the same thing.

41 Helen April 4, 2013 at 9:43 pm

I like the electric roaster concept. We’ve been using either top of our wood stove or our gas stove top. Electric roaster might have better consistent temperature.

42 Colleen April 8, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Can you use an aluminum pot for boiling sap? Can you stop boiling during the process and begin again the next day, or do you have to continue till the end?

43 Sofya April 8, 2013 at 8:14 pm

1) I was told not to… 2)I believe so.

44 Mark March 16, 2014 at 6:01 pm

I tried aluminum after reading this. To date I have boiled outside in a pot for about 30 hours then finished off it in a coated smaller pot inside. I can’t tell any difference and seems the aluminum pot heats faster and more even than any other that I used.

45 Luke Herda February 4, 2014 at 3:11 pm

The Native Americans, who orginated the making of maple syrup, did not have therometers. Neither did I , when I started. It is a simple matter of testing the consistancy. Boil it. Take a sample. Let it cool. Check to see if it is like syrup. It darn sure isn’t rocket-science. I do use a therometer, but if there is an altitude issue, you simply set the standard “by taste and touch”, then you know what you want in the future. For home-production it is generally desirable to cook it down most of the way on a wood fire outside, then finish it on the stove. If outside cooking is not possible, be careful to vent the steam. The gas or electric is more expensive than wood. Commercial producers use vacuum processes. This keeps the temperature down and provides a lighter syrup. When it is “almost” to the syrup stage, that is, when I take it in for finishing, I filter it through paper towels. Maybe not the best choice, but convenient. Chemical-free white tee-shirt material is good, two, three, or four layers.

46 Sofya February 17, 2014 at 1:12 am

Yes, this is also how I cook all my candy (and I cook lots of different kinds of candy), without a thermometer.

47 sue February 21, 2014 at 7:53 am

Can an aluminium pot be used

48 Sofya March 13, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I am not sure, never did that.

49 Glenn February 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm

I made syrup from a norway maple and I have one main concern, which I have had difficulty in troubleshooting. I have been using taste as well as color and viscosity as an indicator of when to bottle. The syrup I have produced is extremely sweet and flavorful, so much so that I feel further boiling would be detrimental. Yet, the final product is pale and watery, compared to that produced by my friend’s norway maple. As I said, I am quite happy with the taste… It is not only sweet, but full of maple flavor. Am I perhaps doing something wrong, or am I encountering variability with in Maple species?

50 Sofya March 13, 2014 at 12:11 pm

You just got to cook it to the given temp, but some syrup is bound to be light-colored and not quite as thick, depending on the conditions when the sap was collecting (I think…).

51 kirk March 3, 2014 at 8:12 am

Have tapped a Norway maple in our front yard this spring. Two taps in 25 inch diameter tree has yielded @ 40 gallons of sap to date which has yielded over a gallon of wonderfully flavored sweet syrup. Couple of shout outs for support for earlier entries above.

1. Agree with the problems experienced with thermometers but 7 to 8 degrees over boiling point is a good finish point objective, however syrup texture/consistency when a drop is placed on a cold countertop is my fallback method. When the boiling bubbles are small be especially watchful. Have found it very helpful to check the beginning boiling point of the initial sap. My initial sap boiling point (I use a digital candy thermometer) thru numerous mini boils has ranged from 208.5 to 211.5 degrees. This range I attribute to our elevation in Lexington Ky and the difference in atmospheric pressure during various evaporation sessions. Just points to the importance of having a feel for your end point temperature goal which can be a moving target depending on you elevation at your location and the weather being experienced.
2. Filtering with Orlon works great. Discovered the small blankets the airlines typically provide passengers on overnite flights are frequently Orlon.. Folded into layers it will nicely meet the filtering objective. Like to do my filter prior to the finish when the consistency is thin and the boiling point is 2 to 3 degrees above the initial boiling point.
3. When I have four gallons of sap will do a boil rather then wait for large accumulation (like the moisture added in the house during the cold winter days). Boil down to less then quart volume and containerize in a ball jar until ready for finish boil with other accumulated Ball containers of concentrated sap. Filling the jars when the syrup is hot will insure that the lids will seal/pop when they cool.
4. Liked the idea of using an electric roaster and am trying it this morning. Find that it will not reach a rolling boil with the lid off but it is steaming so we have some evaporation but the rate is I expect is slower then the stove top method.
5. Nix the aluminum cooking containers

52 Steve March 10, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Hi –good tips on boiling sap. My question concerns the “metalic” taste that cast iron imparts in the syrup. Would good/proper seasoning of the cauldron prevent this? I love boiling the sap outside and this year I went with a large (40 gal) cauldron vs the stainless steel pans I used to use. A much cooler way to boil but I “think” can tast the difference—but not sure. I don’t want to give up on the cauldron but my wife will think she is tasting the metalic no matter what…So how can I help reduce this?
Thank you in advance for any help.

53 jaime miller March 20, 2014 at 7:40 am

This is our second year of making syrup. We do it in batches in a turkey roasting pan inside on the gas stove. Last night, my husband was watching it and waited until 219, but it looks like it went from the dark syrup look and consistency to a lighter, much thicker almost honey consistency. Can we 1. reheat gently and just add a bit more sap to thin it out, 2. add it to the rest of what we’ve already made, or 3. just leave it alone. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us novices:)

54 Sofya April 25, 2014 at 9:07 pm

I think you can do either one!

55 Bronwen March 20, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Hello Sofya – this is the first year we have ever tried making syrup. It has been a great experience – we are having so much fun with it. However, we have canned about 7 pints total. All from different batches. About 4 of our pint jars are are very clear (meaning the syrup itself you can see through the jar) but there is a cloud in it? Is this what they call “sand sugar”? I’ve tried it and it tastes very good. Anyway, my husband is having a fit. He keeps telling me he is going to open the jars and try filtering it through a cheese cloth but the jars are already sealed so I hate to open. We filtered it before we boiled. Then once we brought it in the house to finish off, we filtered it again through a coffee filter (which picked up quite a bit of the natural sand sugar or little particles). The only thing we did not do is filter once it became syrup. Could this cloudiness be due to the fact that we need to filter yet again after it has become syrup?

56 Sofya April 25, 2014 at 9:07 pm

That would be my guess.

57 sarah March 22, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I boiled off some sap today. I left it alone and got involved with the kids in something else. When I came back the sap was a carmel consistence. It appears that I cooked it to long. Is there a way I can fix it?

58 Sofya April 25, 2014 at 9:06 pm

I don’t believe so, although my mother-in-law would mix and melt it back with some straight sap to get it roughly to the syrup consistency but it will taste like molasses at that point.

59 sarah March 22, 2014 at 2:14 pm

my sap got burnt when I tried to cook it down. I cooked it too long. Can I add more sap to it or should I just start over?

60 Rita March 29, 2014 at 6:24 pm

We decided on a lark to tap our trees, and put three taps in two old box elder trees (box elder is a type of hard maple, we discovered) and have collected about 25 gallons of sap. We cooked the first two batches inside the house, venting for steam, adding to the pot continually. The first batch cooked down too far, and we got sweet maple-y candy. The second batch turned into syrup, but we didn’t do a final filter and just put it in jars where sediment has settled to the bottom. The syrup tasted great and had a decent consistency, maybe a little thinner than commercial syrup. Today we are cooking on a wood fire outside in an open fire-pit. We found we have to keep the flames literally flicking around the bottom of the pot to keep the boil rolling. I am keeping a big pot on a low setting on the stove in the kitchen, and as the outdoor pot cooks down, I add more (already hot) sap to it.

I am using a commercial grade aluminum cook pot—the only thing I could find around here that was big enough. What is the problem with aluminum? Does using a commercial grade make any difference?

I strain with coffee filters inside a mesh strainer when pouring from the tree buckets into storage containers, then strain again the same way before putting sap into the pan. Will do another filter with cloths before going to the final boil stage. I found some grease filter cones from a restaurant supply store to try for the final filter.

We have been collecting sap now for about 2 1/2 weeks, with sometimes days in between much running. I have had to store in the fridge for several days, and so far that has worked out OK. Our spring is very late here (central Iowa) with nights still getting below freezing, which I read is what makes the run more productive (the temperature differential with nights below freezing to days above ). How much longer can we expect to have more sap, or is it strictly locally dependent?

Thanks for all the helpful tips, I’m glad our experience is not so far off from other people’s first attempts!

61 Ken April 2, 2014 at 8:43 am

This is my first time and I am boiling my sap outside in a large COPPER kettle. Is it OK to use copper to boil it down. It seems to have a rusty color when it gets boiled down to a certain point. Tastes ok though.

62 Sofya April 25, 2014 at 9:03 pm

I don’t believe copper is OK, you need something non-reactive.

63 Sofya March 29, 2013 at 10:09 am

Very interesting re filtering, I haven’t experimented. Looks like you found the golden mean there! Sucks re thermometers, I always find them imprecise also. My in-laws ruin one every year by doing syrup :(

64 Eva April 5, 2013 at 1:22 pm

orlon sounds way better than even fine cotton, thanks for this invaluable tip! cheescloth is too coarse, i’m not using that. we found a neat thing at Lowes, Blue Hawk cone paint strainer , it’s good for filtering critters and debris out of the sap. a few taps attracted small ants, they love sugar. give them stevia or sugar substitute – they won’t touch it, they can’t be fooled. nature is so neat. i’ve closed a few taps by now, stuffing the drill hole with slippery elm powder, putting a leaf over it, and old drywalling tape around the tree. proper wound care :-)
now the filling: i gladly take your advice now using the hot water method for the jars i want to sell later at farmers markets etc. a few did indeed not seal with just filling hot. would love to get glass syrup bottles … can’t put those in the pressure cooker, can i. they say fill hot and almost to the top and put cap on. i tried small 5 oz. glass bottles, it had to be during waxing moon, no choice, one or two developed light mold … which they say to just scoop off, it won’t affect the syrup. better is to fill during the waning moon which is now, as it is your guarantee this won’t happen. would love to hear anything you can share on filling.

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