Making Maple Syrup at Home

During spring break a couple of weeks ago Lara, my mom and I went to Blandford Nature Center for the Sugarbush festival. If you've never heard of a Sugarbush, neither had I. According to Wikipedia, a Sugarbush is "a forest stand which is exploited for maple syrup". At Blandford they walk you through the entire process of making maple syrup, from the history, to tapping the trees, to boiling down the sap into the delicious syrup.

Since I've recently started to really love maple syrup and find it so interesting I was really excited to see how it is made. When I saw that Blandford was holding a sugarbush festival I knew I had to go. I thought that most of the people attending the sugarbush would probably be parents with young kids, and I was right. But it didn't matter at all. I enjoyed it so much, and I got way more out of it than the kids did. Our guide was very nice and knew a lot about tapping maple trees.

Of course, after seeing how it all works I had to try it myself and my mom agreed that we should give it a go. I knew we had one tree in our yard that was big enough to tap so my mom bought a spile (the spigot driven into the tree to get the sap out) and we went to work drilling into our tree. We used my mom's new drill to make the hole in the tree, and it was a lot harder than we thought. We also had to go out and buy a new bit because she didn't have one that was big enough. Finally, we got everything set, and then it was time to wait for the sap to flow.

 Sadly, I had to go back to school before enough sap was collected, so it was up to my mom to finish the project, and she did a wonderful job. Although she may or may not have had a little problem the first time through the boiling down process, in the end she ended up with about 1/4 of a cup of homemade maple syrup. How fun. Not the most efficient process to do at home, but who cares. I find the whole process fascinating!

Homemade maple syrup!

 Lara and I at Blandford

 Listening intently, at least the kids are anyway

 Warming up by a big pot of boiling sap, the old fashioned method

 The new fashioned method, much easier to control and maintain

 Mom getting ready to drill the hole in our tree

 Pushing hard, that drill bit did not want to go in

 Finally we made it

Up close look at the spile

Lara's excited

 The boiling down process, pictures courtesy of mom.
The sap starts out looking like water, and that's about all it taste like too. 
But have patience, the good stuff is coming!

 The color's changing!

Almost done!

The finished project
Great job mom!!!
Wish I had done it with you.

Again, this is not a very efficient project to work on if you want gallons of maple syrup. Although it depends on the tree, it can take 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. Seeing as my mom started with far less than 40 gallons of sap, she ended up with around 1/4 c of syrup! But hey, I bet it will taste like the best maple syrup I've ever had. After all of that, it better!

Hey, after all of this I bet you're dying to make a nice tall stack of fluffy pancakes. Go buy some maple syrup (if you haven't had the time to boil down your own) and try out the pancakes from my Homemade Pancake Mix ,but whatever else you do, make sure you buy REAL maple syrup, none of that fake corn syrup stuff, get the real deal and you won't regret it!