Sweet times on the farm

I looooove maple syrup. Growing up, every spring my parents went to a Mennonite farm and bought gallons of pure maple syrup. Then they put it into containers and froze it, so we had it for the whole year. It was always a sad day late in the winter when we ran out of syrup.

Sorry, Aunt Jemima, you’re just not for me.

You can imagine how excited I am to be making our own maple syrup this year.

We jumped right in to tapping our trees with little thought to how we’d transform the sap into syrup. A lot of what I saw online talked about evaporators or cauldrons over fires. Pretty much everything said, “Do not boil sap indoors.”

We have neither an evaporator nor a cauldron, however. Nor did we have a ton of sap, so Matt and I threw caution to the wind and decided we were going to boil our sap inside on the stove. Daring, I know.

We selected some large pots–including our big roasting pan, dumped in the sap, set the burners to high and turned on the exhaust fan to suck out the steam. And you know what? It totally worked!

Boiling sap on the stove to make maple syrup

On an average evening, we found about 12 litres of sap was a good quantity. It fit in our pots easily and didn’t fill the house with too much steam. After boiling for about 3 and a half hours, the sap had transformed into syrup.

At first we just judged by colour and flavour, but Matt progressed to measuring the temperature. He found online that 218ºF (103ºC or so) was the magic number.

Tip to anyone who wants to try making syrup indoors, we used the soup pot as a finishing pot and transferred the sap from the roasting pan into the soup pot for the last half hour of boiling

Boiling sap on the stove to make maple syrup

The ratio for sap to syrup that we found online was 40:1, and that was our experience too. 12 litres (12,000mL) of sap made about 1 1/2 cups (375mL of syrup).

This picture shows another neat thing I’ve learned about syrup. I knew it came in different grades or colours, but I thought it was just the amount of boiling time that determined what grade your syrup was. It turns out it’s early versus late in the season. The jar on the left is from our second boil, and the one on the right is our fourth. See how the colour is subtly darker in the older syrup?

Homemade maple syrup

An aside about these old Crown canning jars. How perfect is the made in Canada label?

Homemade maple syrup in a Crown canning jar made in Canada

I’m loving having maple syrup again. It’s sweetened a lovely pumpkin soup, made a beautiful golden topping on vanilla ice cream (one of my favourite ways to eat it) and of course added just what was missing to my favourite meal of the day, breakfast.

Homemade maple syrup on French toast

I’m trying to be a bit frugal and not eat it all at once. We already have two full jars in the freezer, so I’m hoping to remember my childhood and make it stretch as long as I possibly can.

Are there any other maple syrup snobs out there? Have you ever made your own syrup? Any tips to share–whether for inside or outside boiling? Do you have a favourite maple syrup recipe?


18 thoughts on “Sweet times on the farm

  1. I would really like to make some maple syrup. Now that we live here, it is actually possible. 🙂 We have been real syrup users since our first was little. I love that I can buy it by the gallon around here. That was unheard of in California. Thanks for showing the process at your house.

  2. My uncle lived in Quebec, and several years when I was a kid he sent us a gallon – the kind in the big metal rectangular can with the cabin on it – such excitement when it came! Just incredibly delicious. My mother was very careful with it, and doled it out super frugally. We had it every Sunday on waffles, and probably about once a week on vanilla ice cream. Now I’m on a particular diet that rules out honey, so I replace it with maple syrup in recipes.
    Your maple syrup looks lovely! How much did you get altogether? My dad used to make maple walnut fudge. It would have been marvy-fab if not for the walnuts, lol. (I detest them.) Would you be interested in that recipe?

  3. I am looking to give this a try this year, and was wondering if one could cook the collected sap in small batches each day rather than a large boil using the kitchen stove top? So rather than boil down gallons (hopefully I can collect that much) which will take all day, I could just boil down smaller batches each day and put them in the same syrup bottle when finished. There is no way I can boil them outside, I have a fire place that possibly could be used to get this boiling, but I prefer the stove top.

    Also, I live in Massachusetts and have yet to read anywhere if keeping the collected sap outside out of the sun is safe before reducing to syrup and at what temp the sap must be kept before it spoils. I guess what this all comes down to is that I do not think I can handle 40 gallons of sap my first try, and reducing this down to smaller collections and batches to boil (2-3 gal sap) would work too. any info or insight would be very much appreciated. thank you

    • I’ll do my best to answer here based on our experience.

      My understanding is that sap should be kept relatively cold (like in the fridge). We’ve made use of our cold cellar, or sometimes even left a big pot of sap in our unheated mudroom because we’ve run out of space in the fridge. These spaces may get up to 10C, but we’ve not had any issues with the sap seeming contaminated or “bad.”

      You can certainly do boils in smaller batches. We did ours inside on the stove as well, and really just wanted to consolidate as much as possible, so that’s why we stockpiled sap for a few days.

      There were several times my husband combined partial jars from our last boil with our current boil. Again, we didn’t suffer any ill effects from that. Be aware that the colour and flavour of your syrup will change as the season progresses, so you may not want to mix eventually.

      I think you just want to be somewhat cautious about contamination, so keep your jars clean, your sap cool and your syrup hot as much as possible.

      Hope this helps.

  4. I’m tempted to boil my sap indoors based on your experience. Did the fan blades or range hood get coated with sugar from the steam?

    • I recommend it. We’ve done it for years with no issues. (Though with only 5 buckets, our sap quantity isn’t huge usually.) I’ve not noticed a sugary coating on the exhaust fan. There are some drips at times on the backsplash or fan, but they wipe up pretty easily. Good luck.

      • Thank you for your response. We did end up boiling it at home. Had the range hood going the whole time and no problem. Maybe overboiled a little as it ended up being more of a honey consistency in the end.

        Second time around I boiled it outside on a makeshift evaporator (some cinder blocks and an old barbeque grill). Brought it inside to finish. Either way worked fine for us. But outside was more cost effective because I had the electric stove top on high for 4 hours the first time around.

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