As the name suggests, maple syrup is based on the tree sap of some maple varieties, namely the red maple, sugar maple, and black maple. The sweet taste of this amber liquid is imparted by sucrose present in the sap. Nutrition wise, this syrup contains low calories, and is loaded with healthy nutrients. You can serve this with waffles, toast, pancakes, and oatmeal, or add in baking goodies and cakes.
The watery sap from a mature maple tree is used for making maple syrup. If you have mature maple trees at home, you can extract sap and make good quality maple syrup. In general, maple trees cultivated in cold climates store excess amounts of starch during the dormant season, i.e. cold winter months, which is then converted into sugar with the arrival of spring. The simpler sugar from the roots and trunk are released to the sap for distribution to the remaining plants parts.
Just like extraction of latex from rubber tree, maple tree is first tapped for collection of sap. To prepare maple syrup, the sap is evaporated till it thickens to the desired consistency. Another method is to make the syrup with brown sugar, granulated sugar, and maple flavoring agent. This artificial maple syrup also tastes good for serving with toast and waffles. However, this sugar loaded syrup is not suggested for use in healthy drinks.
- The amount of watery sap yielded from a maple varies greatly depending upon the tree size, season, tapping technique, and duration. On an average, a mature tree gives about 5 to 15 gallons sap per tapping.
- As expected, the tree sap is a mixture of water, sugar, salt, and minerals. Hence, it is evaporated to make a concentrated liquid. For making a quart of maple syrup, you will need approximately 10 gallons of maple sap, extracted from January to March.
- Before you start with the actual method making the maple syrup, gather the required supplies, plastic or metal buckets with lid, plastic, or metal spout for drawing sap, power drill machine (½ inch bit and at least 4 inches length), wide mouthed pan, and candy thermometer.
- In case, you have several red maple trees, select the ones having a trunk size of about 10 inches. Large maple trees with their diameter ranging between 20 to 25 inches can have two spouts for collecting maple sap. You can place three spouts for trees having more than a 25 inch diameter.
- To begin with, select a solid site in the tree trunk, about 4 inches from the ground level. Make sure that the chosen spot for drilling hole is not soft or damaged for any reason. If you have collected maple sap before, select a spot away from the previous holes.
- With the new drill bit, make a hole approximately 2 inches deep inside the tree trunk. Position the spout in the hole, ensuring that it reaches the tree sap. Following this, secure the bucket just below the spout, and see if drops of sap fall in the bucket.
- Put the lid on to avoid accumulation of dust and insects in the collected maple sap. Once you get sufficient amount of sap, transfer it in a pan and start heating. Continue heating till the liquid starts boiling. Also, you can add leftover sap (if any) in the pan as the liquid evaporates.
- When the liquid begins boiling, remove foam and impurities from the top surface. A simple tip to avoid burning of maple sap is maintain at least 1½ inches of liquid from the bottom of pan. After some time, the sap will concentrate and become highly viscous.
- Check the temperature and see if it is 7° higher than boiling temperature of water. If the candy thermometer shows the same reading, carefully remove maple syrup from heat and filter it through an Orlon filter. Allow it to cool down to 180°F before packaging.
Today, this syrup is highly publicized as the main ingredient for master cleanse diet, which most of us know about. Whether you need it to cleanse your system, or just to serve with your waffle, try making your own syrup. With homemade maple syrup, you can be sure about the absence of preservative and additives.