Tis’ the season that we look forward to once a year – maple syrup tapping season! My family has a history of tapping trees to make pure maple syrup. My dad did this growing up as a kid, shared the experience with my siblings and I when we were young, and now has started the hobby up again not only for enjoyment, but has also enrolled my kids in the experience, too! He’s not the only one in my family that taps maple trees… My grandpa Wally taps MANY trees this time of year, and has grown quite the following along the way. As a kid, my siblings and I would look forward to attending his yearly pancake feed where we could help celebrate a successful spring of tapping! (I’m hoping to do a blog post about his experience at some point.)
Like I said, this year my dad started tapping trees again and my kids are HERE. FOR. IT. 🙂 Savannah’s favorite food has been pancakes since she could talk and Bryce has been hooked on “faffles” (waffles) ever since I could remember. Having a steady supply of pure maple syrup (let alone getting to make our own) has really sparked excitement and interest in my kiddos. Even my sweet little niece, Wren, has a tree tapped at her house!
I, myself, don’t claim to be an expert on tapping maple trees or plan to share a complete step-by-step instructional guide (at least not right now) on the topic, but I’d like to share a few of my findings throughout this season.
A couple weeks back, when we were blessed with warmer afternoons, my dad came out to our house to tap some trees. Now, I’ve said the word “tapping” quite often, but what does this mean? It means that we quite literally make holes (using a drill) in our tree to connect a tap and tube to collect the sap into a large, clean container while it drips. This first step might have been Bryce’s favorite because he got to use the drill.
For the first two weeks, the sap dripped pretty slowly and did not acquire much in the container. However, this past week it really started to flow, almost entirely filling the container in a day! If you’re not familiar with the process of making maple syrup, you might be thinking, “Wow, there’s a lot of syrup to be made!”, but when you are cooking the sap, it takes a generous supply of sap to produce even the smallest amount of maple syrup. To give you a perspective, the first batch collected was about 80 gallons of sap. When boiling that down, there was enough to make approximately 2 gallons of finished product!
Once the sap is collected, then begins the process of boiling. As I’ve stated before, I’m not the expert here 🙂 I’ve only jotted down notes from my dad. He or my grandpa Wally would be great people to connect with on this topic! He boils the sap to 219 degrees, and once it is at that point, he uses a hydrometer to check for it to reach 211 degrees. Once it reaches that point, he filters the syrup twice (using milk filters) just before finishing, and then filters it one more time using orlon cone filters. Savannah and I were fortunate enough to hang around one night to help him and my mom with this process. She took great pride in the role of being the official taste-tester!
Well folks, we’re almost there! The syrup gets reheated to 180-190 degrees for bottling so that the bottles can seal. He and my mom used a percolator (mainly used for coffee) because it holds the temperature well and it has a great spout for filling! Once they are filled, put the lids on. As the jars cool down, the caps will make a “pop” noise to let you know that they are sealed.
We’ve definitely been enjoying our share of pure maple syrup lately. I’m pretty certain that if you were to strike up a conversation with Savannah about tapping trees for maple syrup, she’d feel pretty confident in sharing her experience with you! ☺️ Don’t forget to subscribe below to follow along with our other adventures!
Rooted in ag & led by faith,
One thought on “Not to get all sappy, but… there’s nothing better than pure maple syrup!”
How well I remember receiving maple syrup from you Oelfke kids when I was your teacher. The best syrup ever! What a great memory you are making by passing the process on to the next generation.