Follow the below instructions to make delicious homemade maple syrup!
The Amount of Sap Needed
The sap to syrup ratio is approximately 40 to 1. That means it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. For a more precise measurement, use a hydrometer to determine the exact sugar percentage in your sap and divide it by 86 to determine how many gallons of your sap you will need to make one gallon of syrup.
Sap is evaporated by boiling it down to remove extra moisture. This condenses the sugars in the sap to create syrup. Boiling also kills harmful bacteria in raw sap. Before boiling you will first filter the sap through a coarse filter to remove large debris and then through a finer filter such as cheesecloth to remove smaller debris.
It is not recommended that you initially boil the sap in your home, because the fumes will coat your kitchen with a sticky film. Sap is usually evaporated outdoors over a large fire pit. Split your wood into smaller logs (2-3 inches in diameter), so they burn more readily producing a higher temperature.
After you have filtered your raw sap and started your heat source, you can fill your evaporator pan and start boiling. Begin with only two inches of sap in the bottom of the pan to get the sap boiling quickly and evenly. As the moisture evaporates, the level of the sap will drop, allowing you to slowly add raw sap to the pan. Do not add too much sap at once or you will kill the boil. Keep the heat high, do not stir, monitor your sap level and do your best to maintain a boiling temperature of 212°F-218°F.
Finishing the Evaporation Process
When your raw sap is almost completely boiled down, but still has a fluid texture, transfer from the large flat evaporating pan to a smaller pot on your kitchen or camp stove. Keep the sap boiling until it reaches 217°F to 218°F and takes on the consistency of syrup. At this point, turn off your stove, remove the pot from the hot burner and cover it to avoid water loss to maintain density. Your finished product should consist of approximately 67% sugar and 33% water.
Filtering and Bottling Maple Syrup
Filter the hot homemade maple syrup through cheesecloth to remove niter (aka. sugar sand). Bottle your syrup while it is hot (185°F to 190°F) in air-tight mason jars or specially made bottles for maple syrup. Store your syrup in a cool dry place or freeze it. Syrup that is not bottled hot is not sealed as tightly and hence should always be refrigerated or frozen.
Congratulations you have made your very own homemade maple syrup! You can share it with your family and friends, give it as holiday and birthday gifts and even keep some for yourself!