First of all this is really just a bunch of poppycock. You don’t need any of this stuff to enjoy real maple syrup at home. In 2015 I had done a cook very shortly after some very heavy sap collecting days. This yielded the lightest syrup I had ever made, so Jessi encouraged me to enter it in the Minnesota State Fair competition.

Maple Syrups
Light Amber Maple, far right

It was fun and I’d like to improve on my process a little, but doing these things by no means should preclude you from enjoying real maple syrup.

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You’ve collected enough sap, and now it’s time to boil down to syrup. The first weekend of April was it for 2014, the freeze thaw cycle is over until next year. So let’s talk about turning that sap into syrup.

You don't need to be that scientific
You don’t need to be this scientific

First, plan on dedicating an entire day to cooking. Every year I’ve made syrup, it has taken me 12 hours from start to finish. When I make my boiling rig more efficient, I happen to get more sap and for some magic reason it always takes all day. Also, you want to boil outside. 5 Gallons of sap yields one pint of syrup. Would you be willing to dump 5 gallons of water in your kitchen?

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I went to syruping demonstration a couple years back put on by the Minnesota DNR. Syruping is an age old tradition, so there’s nothing really new here, In fact most can be gleaned from the handout I received at the demonstration. I just wanted to document it for someone looking to get started.

During a year with “normal” Minnesota weather, you would want to start gathering sap for syrup around Valentines day. But this year was extra cold, and we didn’t start having good daytime thaws until March.

You could still start now, you haven’t been missing out on too much sap production (from my standpoint). Here’s what you need:

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