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Maple syrup making --Help me get started

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Bocefus78, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

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    It can't hurt to try. My first year I didn't distinguish between reds and sugars and it didn't turn out too bad (though not perfect either). My second year I tried separate batches by tree type to see if I could improve the flavor and that's when I found that my reds were really unappealing and probably adding the off flavors to my first year batches. I guess you would call it a buddy taste. It's how the sugar maples get at the end of the season which tells you it's time to quit. When I eliminated the reds, the syrup came out really smooth and buttery tasting. I wouldn't mind tasting other people's red maple syrup to see if it's like mine. Actually, I wouldn't mind trying birch or walnut syrup either, at least once. Maybe some people just prefer different flavors too. If you make it and you like it, more power to ya.

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  2. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

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    Here's a plastic tubing spile that I use for collection. I tried the old fashioned metal ones the first year, dripping into a hanging bucket, but it tended to get insects in it and was more prone to oxidation. I like the tubes much better.

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  3. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

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    Here are some of my collection buckets. I use 5 gallon pickle buckets from Burger King and fry oil canisters from Arby's. Both work very well. They hold enough for a couple days of collection from a single tree and they help keep out the insects and oxygen.

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  4. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

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    Here's a clear difference between red and sugar maples in the autumn. Not all the leaves are this distinct, but if a tree has more or less the one kind or the other, you can generally tell pretty quick which kind it is. Wrapping the tree with a ribbon in the autumn will allow you to distinguish them in February. You may want to do both types of tree, but I'd advise cooking down separate batches to see if you like the taste.

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  5. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

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    Here are two of my evaporators. One made of dry-stacked cinder blocks and bricks and is wood fired, the other a propane turkey fryer. The wood-fired one has superior cooking power. It's like a blast furnace. But it's harder to have fine control over it. Also, it has to be scrapped at the end of the season because the concrete falls apart. This year I'll probably spring for fire bricks. My kettle is a large oxygen tank with the top cut off. I do the bulk of the boiling on the wood fire and then move it to the propane for finer control.

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  6. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

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    Some of my finished product...

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  7. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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  8. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

  9. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    Great thread. I just tap a few trees and boil down some sap on the woodstove, and finish it up on the stove top. So its been interesting looking at all of your setups.

    What I really use the sap for is making beer by substituting the sap instead of water. I've seen recipes for mead doing the same thing. You can also make coffee that way if you like your coffee sweet.
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  10. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

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    I'm interested in doing more with my syrup and sap. Fermenting it is definitely something I've entertained. I've also thought about making a carbonated soft drink out of it. Or maybe a shnapps or liquor by adding spirits to it. Also, some roles where honey is traditionally used -- e.g. maple peanut butter or maple mustard. I've yet to actually experiment much though. Something to look forward to in the years ahead.
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  11. Thomas Anderson

    Thomas Anderson Member

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    One thing I have experimented with -- maple syrup is a major component of my Butterbeer recipe.
  12. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the article Pen.

    I too have been thinking of tapping some of the soft maples we have along with some of the birch.
  13. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Even if it's not as efficient as a sugar maple, at least it's something to do that time of year!

    Never really looked into making the birch syrup as we don't really have that many around to make it easy doing. Not sure how that's done, whether the trees are actually tapped or if they boil the bark down or some such thing. If you ever do make it work and it comes to good, let me know how you did it.

    pen
  14. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I do keep thinking about this and maybe next spring will be the time. If so, I'll post about it. And yes, I understand you tap the same as with maple.
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  15. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Birch syrup comes after maple season. That's when the birch trees are pushing sap. I hear-tell its a lot darker and more robust than maple syrup.....I just don't have enough birch around me to experiment. It takes a lot more sap if I remember correctly. We'll ask Bogydave when he gets back from moose camp, he's got some good information about it.

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