Monday, March 15, 2010

Making Maple Syrup - Part II (Finishing)

The sugaring season in over here in West Virginia. We've had some unusually warm weather and it will get even warmer this weekend. I've read that the prime tapping temperatures are above freezing during the day and below freezing at night. We went from snow and day time temperatures below 30 degrees, to 50's during the day and 40's at night. So, that made for a short season. Still, we yielded over 1 1/2 gallons of pure golden deliciousness. Next year I plan to tap more sugar maple trees on our farm. Once you get set up to boil down the sap, a couple more gallons isn't that much more work. I also want to find a long, shallow pan for evaporating the sap. The more surface area you have, the faster the water evaporates.

The hardest part of making maple syrup is the finishing process. You have to boil it till it is 7.1 degrees above the boiling point of water. Since we are over 2800 feet high in the mountains, I tested our boiling temperature with a pot of water. It boiled at 201 degrees.

After you have reached the correct temperature, you need to filter the syrup to clean out the syrup sand and other particulates. I bought a Hobby Filter kit from Sugar Bush Supplies. They were very helpful and described the process to me. I will gladly recommend them to anybody.

It's very important that the syrup stay above 180 degrees while filtering it. To keep it warm and filter at the same time, I used my juicer. It has a strainer, which I put the filters in, a pot with a hose to fill the jars, and a pan that is used like a double boiler. This way the syrup will be hot, but won't burn. After filling the jars, I processed them in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, just to be sure that they sealed.

Juicer with wool and paper filters in strainer.

Another late night.

Is it ready yet, Daddy?


  1. This is really awesome Ken! I've never been sugaring before. Thanks for the insight. It makes me wish I lived in greener pastures.

  2. Thomas - It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun also. I'm looking forward to next year. I'm envious of your greener garden. I'm working on mine, though. I have a big weekend planned, building more raised beds and planting my spring seeds, and building some salad boxes. It's nice to see spring arriving.