I notice a lot of blogs and YouTube videos about maple sugaring. Last year’s season extended to late fall when I pulled from my deep freeze the six or seven gallons of raw sap I had left over from that spring. I had to do something with the frozen sap because I needed room to freeze all the late season marinara, peppers, and squash from the growing season.
Why didn’t I boil the sap down during the early spring? I didn’t have enough for a full boil and was hoping I would get that little bit more! Last year was a weird season. It started, stopped, and then started again and it was warm long enough for the bugs to come out. Once those flies start getting into my sap buckets, I consider my season over.
My sap gathering system is a very simple one. Maybe I should change to plastic spiles and tubing that leads to closed carboys. I tend to use what I have if it isn’t worn out, and I only have time and money for a couple of boils anyway, so this year I am once again using my system of metal spiles into covered ice cream pails.
I did my boil of those last few gallons in a stainless steel pot on an electric hot plate on my patio and just let it evaporate slowly. (Not a bad way to boil down a little bit of sap with minimal effort.)
A few tips:
- Start the first gallon of sap boiling on your kitchen stove then move it outside to the hotplate set as high as it will go.
- Add subsequent sap in small enough quantities that you don’t have to take it back into the house to get it boiling again!
- Put a fine mesh colander over the top of your pot to exclude bugs and tree debri.
- Check on the simmering sap every once in a while to skim the foam that forms naturally as it simmers.
- Watch it more closely near the end when the bubbling liquid begins to look glossy. (After all your hard work you don’t want to burn or overcook it.)
- Bring the pot into the house to finish cooking on your kitchen stove where you can keep a close eye on it.
Fortunately, I realized what I had done quickly enough to get out my candy molds and scrape most of it out of the pot before it turned into concrete! (This happen very quickly so you have to be fast!)
What I ended up with was maple sugar candy and granular maple sugar. I’m not a big fan of maple candy, so I use mine like sugar cubes in tea. Maple sugar is precious considering how much sap you boil down to get it! Gallons and gallons of sap to get just a little bit of sugar. If every sweet food that we eat were sweetened with maple sugar, there would be a lot less obesity in the world! Begonia