Maple syrup is one of the earliest natural food assets created in North America. Folklore credits the Native Americans through the exploration of this flavorful organic sweetener.

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Although contemporary day commercial operations differ substantially from those of our ancestors, the fundamental procedure of converting maple sap to syrup still requires the removal of water from the raw sap to develop the finiburned product. Most novice producers uncover the endure of creating maple syrup rewarding far past the sweet product of their labor. After a couple of years of endure, many beginners develop a level of enthusiasm that advances them to commercial-size maple production. This leaflet provides instruction for those producing maple syrup for the initially time, primarily for home or household usage. Remember, although you may want to innovate to minimize production costs, maple syrup is a food product and should be produced only with tools and products that are apshowed for food application.

Species to tap

Although numerous kinds of maples flourish in the Northeastern, sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is the typical species tapped for maple syrup manufacturing. The sap of the sugar maple primarily includes a higher level of sugar than the various other maples. Identify sugar maple by its bark, its dark, brownish-colored, sharp buds, and also its five-lobed leaves. Red maple (Acer rubrum) have the right to be tapped also, but its sap is less sweet and the tree breaks bud before sugar maple. When buds break, or expand also in late spring, the sap becomes off flavored and is not desirable for processing. The red maple has actually red colored, rounded buds and its three-lobed leaf is well-known for its vivid brilliant red color in fall. Anvarious other species, babsence maple, varies slightly in the visual characteristics of sugar maple, however otherwise yields sap of equivalent quality to the sugar maple. Many syrup producers treat the babsence and sugar maple as one species (figure 1).


Figure 1. Maple species and also leaves.

Trees flourishing alengthy roadsides, in lawns, or in open settings, wright here their crowns have grown huge without competition from various other trees, primarily produce even more and sweeter sap than forest-grvery own trees. Open grvery own trees are capable of developing one half gallon of syrup in one seakid (15 to 20 gallons of sap), whereas trees prospering in a forest establishing generally create around one quart of syrup (about 10 gallons of sap). In addition to higher sap volume and sweetness, open up grown trees primarily market higher access for sap arsenal.


Most of the devices compelled for tapping might be accessible in the house workshop or purchased through minimal investment. Buckets, covers, and also spiles (also called spouts) are available from maple equipment dealers and many type of hardware stores. Other feasible sap containers incorporate clean plastic milk jugs or plastic containers through covers. The equipment for processing sap will call for better investment, yet will last for many years if maintained appropriately. Used devices might be purchased however use judgement and also obtain just tools free of rust and fabricated of food-grade materials. Following is a argued list of equipment and materials for making maple syrup for home-use.

carpenter"s hand brace or breast drill with 7/16 inch diameter drill bitspile (or spout), either steel or plastic for each tapholebucket via cover, plastic sap collection bag, or plastic tubing (food grade materials)arsenal or storage containers, such as plastic or metal trash cans (a number of gallons in capacity and leakfree) for sap storage prior to handling. Storage capacity of 1 to 2 gallons for each tap (ex. 25 taps = 25 to 50 gallons storage) have to be sufficient.pan with high sides and also a heat source for boiling sap. The pan dimension will vary through the variety of taps. Heat resource have the right to be timber fire, propane or camp cooktop. Stainmuch less steel pans fabricated via lead-cost-free solder or welded seams are strongly argued.thermometer calibrated to at leastern 30oF above the boiling suggest of water. Kitchen or candy thermometers might be adequate but must be easily readable over apconfirmed filter for filtering hot finished syrupcontainers for storage of the finimelted product (canning jars, syrup jugs, etc.)



Tap maple trees in early spring once daytime temperatures go over freezing while nighttime temperatures autumn below freezing. The precise time relies on the elevation and also area of your trees and also your area. In Pennsylvania and southern areas of New York, initially sap flow traditionally takes area in mid- to late-February. In northern regions and at greater elevations, the seakid regularly begins in beforehand to mid-March. Sap commonly flows for 4 to 6 weeks or as long as the freezing nights and heat days proceed. If you are uncertain around once to tap, consult via a surrounding maple producer or contact your Exstress Office.

The minimum argued tree diameter for tapping is 10 inches in diameter (Note: not circumference) measured at 4½ feet above ground (see "Other Sources of Information" for making a diameter measurement stick). A quick and also straightforward means to determine the diameter of the tree is by utilizing a family members measuring tape. This will provide the circumference of the tree, which can be converted to diameter from Table 1.

Table 1. Guideline for number of taps per treeDiameter(inches)Circumference(inches)Number of taps

Tapholes must be drilled once temperatures are over freezing to alleviate the danger of damage to the tree. Use a 7/16 inch diameter drill (accessible from hardware stores or maple equipment dealers) in a hand brace or breast drill. Drill right into the trunk of the tree in a room that includes sound lumber (totally free of scars, wounds, or older tapholes). If sap will be collected in buckets, a elevation of two to 3 feet over ground level enables for basic repertoire. However, the height can vary depending on preferences, age, and dimension of the individual tapping the tree. If the tree has actually been tapped in previous years, situate the brand-new taphole at least 6 inches laterally and 24 inches vertically from the old taphole to insure tapping into great, productive saptimber.

For trees with even more than one tap, distribute the tapholes about the circumference of the tree. Drill 2 to 2½ inches right into the tree at a slight upward angle to facilitate circulation of sap from the hole.

Notice the shade of the shavings from the drill as you bore. Shavings need to be light or cream colored, indicating live healthy saptimber. Shavings that are dark brown show lumber undesirable for sap production, and an additional taphole need to be drilled at a brand-new location.

After making certain that the new taphole is free of shavings, insert the spile and seat it through a light hammer. Tap, not pound, the spile in the taphole. Seat the spile correctly so it have the right to support the bucket. Driving the spile via force deserve to break-up the bark delaying taphole clocertain and also bring about a considerable wound on the tree for many years (Figure 3). Do not treat the taphole with disinfectants or other products at the moment of tapping. After rerelocating spiles from the tapholes at the end of the maple seachild, perform not plug the taphole. Tapping done appropriately will permit tapholes to close normally (extended by bark) in around two years and will enable the tree to reprimary healthy and balanced and abundant for generations.


Figure 3. Taphole wound.

Plastic tubing might be offered in place of buckets, however its usage will not be discussed here. For more indevelopment on using maple tubing, consult your maple equipment dealer, regional maple producer, or Exstress and anxiety Office.


The volume of sap accumulated throughout a flow period will certainly vary from less than a quart to several gallons per tap, depending on the tree, weather problems, and also duration of the circulation or run. The sugar content of sap varies between trees, will certainly fluctuate in between runs within a seaboy, and also from year to year.

Collect sap daily if feasible. It have the right to be filtered via a clean fabric or paper filter to remove debris if wanted. Sap deserve to be stored in a clean tank (a 30 gallon storage have the right to works fine) for even more convenient handling. The storage vessel have to be placed in the shade to store the sap as fresh and also cool as feasible. Due to the fact that sap is a mixture of sugar and water, it is a perfect tool for bacterial development. As such, it should be built up and also processed as easily as feasible to encertain a higher quality product. Clean pails, one for each hand also to sell much better balance, may be offered for collecting sap from the trees for transfer to the repertoire tank. When using buckets, make sure each bucket has actually a cover to save rain water and also various other debris from contaminating the fresh sap (Figure 4).


Figure 4. Covered sap bucket.


Normally about 40 gallons of sap are compelled to produce one gallon of finished syrup. Actually this number have the right to vary from 20 to 60 gallons or even more depfinishing mostly on sap sugar content. A big amount of water must be evaporated from the sap to create the finiburned syrup of 66 to 67 percent sugar. Because the huge amount of vapor led to by evaporation of the sap can be damaging to inner wall surfaces, the bulk of the boiling need to be done exterior of the residence.

For people through 50 or even more taps, hobby-size consistent feed evaporators are commercially easily accessible. However before, many hobbyists boil sap consistently in one pan over an open fire, camp oven, or discarded gas range. Multiple pans (sap is added to the first, concentrated sap from the first pan is included to the next, and so on) offer more capacity with even more effectiveness and also are often supplied by producers through more endure. If hardwood fuel is supplied, a assistance (referred to as an "arch") have the right to be constructed via concrete blocks to support the boiling pan and carry out a firebox. Dry great top quality firewood is most preferable for a warm fire.

Before the fuel is ignited, fill the pan via several inches of sap. Throughout the boiling procedure, make specific the liquid level is deep sufficient (about 1½ inches) so the sap will not scorch and damage the pan. As sap is evaporated (liquid level reduced), add even more sap. The faster the sap boils, the greater the potential for creating a higher quality product. This "batch" method allows the sap to be processed to a point near the last phase of evaporation. The more focused sap have the right to then be finimelted with even more managed warmth on the kitchen array.

Sap becomes syrup (66-67% sugar content) at roughly 7¼oF above the boiling suggest of water (ex. if water boils at 212oF, proper thickness for syrup would certainly be slightly over 219oF). Concentrations below 66% sugar content have the right to sour over time. If boiled above the 67% thickness of syrup, sugar crystals deserve to form in the bottom of storage containers. The boiling suggest of water, which varies through elevation and also day-to-day alters in barometric press, is easily figured out by noting the temperature in the raw sap when it is boiling vigorously. Finiburned syrup will certainly frequently "apron" or develop a broad sheet or drip on the edge of a spoon once dipped in and also conveniently withdrawn above the boiling liquid. To keep the endure of boiling sap an enjoyable one, always practice safety.

Throughout the process, excess foam might be skimmed off the surconfront of the boiling sap and discarded. Many kinds of materials, such as butter or vegetable oil, have been used to reduce foaming. However before, a commercial defoaming agent obtainable in little containers from maple tools dealers is recommfinished. The defoamer should be fresh, and only a drop or two is essential. When provided in small quantities, defoamers will certainly evapoprice without a noticeable map in the syrup.


When syrup has reached its appropriate temperature and density, it should be filtered to rerelocate a gritty material dubbed "sugar sand" or "niter" before hot packing in containers. The syrup must be filtered while warm with clean filter product such as wool or orlon available from maple equipment dealers. Syrup should be canned warm (180oF) and stored in a cool dry location or under refrigeration. After a container has been opened for use, it must be refrigerated. Should mold form on syrup that has been stored for numerous months, ssuggest bring the syras much as close to boiling (190oF), remove the mold by skimming, and repack the syrup in a clean container.

The procedure over is intended for residence manufacture of maple syrup. If syrup is to be marketed, grading and labeling standards are required for retail sale in the majority of maple producing says. Contact your Exstress Office or state Department of Agriculture for regulations extending maple products.

Cleanliness and also quality control

After a period of warmth weather, cloudy sap may appear in buckets or gathering devices. This is brought about by bacterial expansion and also deserve to have actually an unfavorable impact on syrup shade and also taste. A mixture of 1 component unscented family bleach to 20 parts clean water deserve to be supplied via a cloth or brush to clean the inside surfaces of sap arsenal equipment. Follow the cleaning with a triple rinse of clean water to remove any kind of hint of the bleach application. Sap boiling equipment can be cleaned with hot water, or the product recommfinished by the tools manufacturer. Do not use any type of various other cleaning substances in any maple devices. Household detergents cannot be completely rinsed from devices and also will contaminate sap and syrup through undersirable tastes and also odors. When washing sap or syrup filters, usage hot water only. At the end of the seachild after cleaning in the manner defined over, save tools and gives in a dry place.

Equipment and also supplies

Production offers and products are accessible from maple devices dealers throughout the maple developing regions. Many type of neighborhood hardware stores carry a tiny line of tools such as buckets and also spiles. Used tools is regularly offered for sale in classified sections of neighborhood newsrecords and agricultural circulars. A maple devices dealer or distributor nearest you can be located by contacting your neighborhood Exstress and anxiety Office, maple producers in your area, or via your county, local, or state maple organization.

Other Sources of Information

Tapping guidelines and determining tree diameter. L.J. Staats and also J.W. Kelley, Dept. of Natural Resources, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.North American Maple Syrup Producers Manual. Single copies are available from county, neighborhood, and also state maple producer organizations or from; Ohio State College Exanxiety, Publications Office, 385 Kottman Hall, 2021 Coffey Roadway, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1044. Phone: 614-292-1607.Educational videos for maple producers; Sugarbush Management, Maple Sap Production, Maple Sap Processing, created by Cornell Cooperative Each video is around 25 minutes and also deserve to be ordered from: Cornell College Resource Center, 7 Business & Tech. Park, Ithaca, NY 14850. Phone 607-255-2090.

"Funding for this publication was provided in component by the New York Maple Producers Association, and also the Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Technology Center, Pennsylvania Maple Producers Council, and also the Pennsylvania Hardwoods Growth Committee and is significantly appreciated."

The authors acexpertise the complying with people for testimonial of this bulletin: Jim Finley, Bob Hansen, H. Lee Hoar, Marianne Krasny, Paul Curtis, and also Peter Smallidge.

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Prepared by Anni L. Davenport, previous educator and Lewis J. Staats, Department of Natural Resources, Cornell College, Cornell Cooperative Exstress.