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There is nothing that will make pancakes more mouth watering than a sumptuous homemade syrup. With sap you have tapped from that Sugar Maple or Black Maple tree growing in your back yard, you too can become a sugarer and make the best preservative free maple syrup ever to cross your lips.
The process of turning your sap into syrup is a simple one and best done outside your home unless you want a layer of sugary residue on your walls. A barbecue grill, kerosene stove, gasoline camp stove, or even a bonfire will work to begin the process. What ever means you use to cook your tree sap, be sure to have plenty of fuel and place your cooker away from windy areas to preserve fuel. A single maple tree will yield about 15 to 20 gallons of sap in a sugaring season so you will also need a large pot with plenty of cooking area. A large size canning pot will work perfectly or a large roasting pan will work for smaller amounts of sap. Make sure you pot is clean and will hold at least a gallon of sap although a pot that holds more than a gallon is preferred.
Other utensils you will need are a large stirring spoon, a 2 gallon finishing pot, a candy thermometer, a kitchen strainer and some heavy felt cloth to filter the syrup when it is finished. Begin by placing the sap in your pot and bring it to a boil. Sap is mostly water so as the water evaporates the boiling point will slowly rise. Check your sap often with your candy thermometer and when the temperature reaches 7 degrees above the boiling point, your syrup is done. While the sap is boiling, stir continuously to aid with the evaporation of the water and keep the froth skimmed off with your kitchen strainer. Also, continue to add sap to the pan as the water evaporates so the syrup will not scorch. As your syrup nears the ready point, about 6 degrees over boiling, it will try to boil over. At this point remove the sap from your burner and pour it into the finishing pot using the felt to filter it as you pour. This filtering process removes sugar sand and other impurities.
Syrup should be bottled immediately from the fire while still hot and can be filtered a second time as your pour it into your bottles. Maple syrup can be stored in air tight bottles, metal or plastic containers but regular mason jars are recommended. Syrup stored in plastic or metal containers will sometimes tend to pick up the flavor of the container. Syrup stored in this manner can last for an extended period without using preservatives.