Learn about maple sugaring, and how you can make your own maple syrup.
We have complied the below list of items you will need for successful maple sugaring, so you don’t get stuck in the sap, literally or figuratively.
The Maple Tree
The most important supply for maple sugaring is your sap source. The tree should be mature, at least 12” in diameter and be free of disease or severe damage. See our article on Trees You Can Tap to Make Maple Syrup for more detailed information.
Drill & Drill Bits
You will need to drill a hole in the tree to access the sap for maple sugaring. You can make this hole with a portable/cordless drill with sharp drill bits. The drill bits for maple sugaring are typically 7/16 inch for traditional sized spiles and 5/16 inch for spiles with a smaller diameter.
These are inserted into the drilled hole to keep it open, so the sap will drain out. Spiles are commercially made of metal or plastic. Some prefer to tap a tree the old fashion way by making their spile by hand, typically out of elderberry stems.
These buckets are attached to the spiles with hooks and collect the sap as it flows out of the tree. Be sure the buckets are food grade (i.e. have not contained harmful chemicals or are unclean) and have a lid so that rain and debris will not contaminate the sap.
Use storage containers in case you get a large sap flow and need a place to store extra sap until you are ready to process it into syrup. Five gallon buckets will work well. Once again, these storage containers need to be food grade and have a lid to keep the sap clean.
Thermometer & Hydrometer
In this pan you will boil down the sap into syrup. The size will depend on how much sap you are processing. It should always be 6-8 inches deep to avoid boiling over. An evaporating pan is often made out of lead-free soldered or welded stainless steel or a dutch oven.
Boiling sap should initially be done outdoors because the fumes contain sap which will make your entire kitchen sticky. Usually sap is boiled over an outdoor woodstove, fire pit or gas grill.
When the sugar in the sap concentrates, pour the sap into a smaller finishing pan on your stove and let it continue to boil until it is 219°F.
When your syrup is done boiling you will pour it through a strainer, cone or square filter to remove any impurities. Do not use coffee filters as their pores are too small.