Give home cooking maple sap a try

Those photographs of elaborate, traditional maple syruping operations should not frighten outdoor-minded folks from trying the process in their back yard and on the kitchen stove.

Yes it’s big business, even in Wisconsin, which ranks seventh following Maine, Vermont, New York and three Canadian provinces.

Here are a few needs:  A cordless drill (although a hand drill works, too) with a 5/16-inch bit, several spiles (spouts), a sap bucket, large roaster to place on cook stove and a few tiny jars to store the product in a refrigerator.

The idea is to boil off 97.5 percent of the water in an evening.  Two guys started with 52 cups of sap and ended the evening with about two cups of syrup, pure maple syrup.

Any maple tree will do, even a box elder (compound-leafed maple).  A tree a foot in diameter can take one tap or about a tap per tree foot diameter.

Animals sometimes tell us it is syruping time.

Collect the sap when it runs during the day, boil it down at night.  Warm spells during nights above 32 degrees shut the sap run down.

A candy thermometer will tell us when the temperature is about 217 degrees, a few degrees above the boiling point of pure water in southern Wisconsin.  That number varies depending where one lives.

Filter the finished product with a clean coffee filter, pour it in a small, capped jar and refrigerate it until used.

Because there may not be much syrup, consider flavoring regular syrup with the pure maple stuff you made.


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