This spring, for the first time Keith tried his hand at making maple syrup. We were all excited at the prospect of having homemade maple syrup but had no idea how labor-intensive and costly it would be to produce. Keith tapped about 20 trees on the property, using spiles and various types of collection equipment. He used buckets, milk cartons, and cups.We even had our friends save their empty gallon milk jugs.
The syrup started flowing the end of February and there was a lot of it. Too much for us to keep up with. Keith had a 50 gallon barrel that he stored the collected syrup in until he was ready to boil it. He collected 160 gallons of sap and could of collected more but we couldn't keep up with the boiling.
He used a propane burner setup outside to boil the sap which ended up to be a costly and inefficient way of boiling it down. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Boiling time varied but it usually took over 24 hours to boil one pot of sap into syrup. He used a warming pot on the grill burner to keep the sap warm so it would be ready to add to the boiling pot. When the boiling pot was almost finished we usually brought it into the house to cook where we could keep a closer eye on the temperature. We lost part of our first batch that scorched a little on the bottom of the pan, and the second batch was also overcooked but made into maple candy so not a complete lost there.When all was said and done we ended up with a little over 2 gallons of delicious syrup! Not bad for first-timers!
We learned a lot about the process of making maple syrup and hope to improve our operation next year to be even more productive!