Maple Syrup


11 Years
Feb 27, 2008
Russia, NY
Anyone else try making their own maple syrup? We've made about 14 pints so far, but the sap stopped flowing about 2 weeks ago, just been too cold. We had about 4 warm days (in the mid 40's and sunny)a few weeks ago and collected about 75 gallons of sap. We have 20 taps set in 12 very large sugar maples around the house, with hoses dripping the sap into 4 gallon buckets. When the weather was nice we'd get a about 2 gallons per tap per day. We use an old wood stove (outside) and a large stainless steel pan (18" x 36") to boil the sap down, and lots of slab wood. In an 8 hour day we can make about 4 pints of syrup. I hope we make enough to cover our pancakes for a year and to give some away as gifts.


Flock Mistress
12 Years
Feb 28, 2007
South Eastern Indiana
Wow, thats great!! I have always wanted to learn to make my own syrup. We have LOTS of silver maple, sugar maple, and sweet gum trees. Im so jealous....I want home made syrup!! LOL


12 Years
Oct 19, 2007
Newton, NC
I wish we had the good maple trees around here. I love making preserves. I'll have to make some this year. If you decide to share your syrup I'll send you my addy...


Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jan 11, 2007
DH tapped about 90 of our maples here in PA and made about 20 pints for us this year. It's great to hear others using natural resources. There is nothing better than real maple syrup. yum



chick magnet
14 Years
Jul 12, 2007
Newport, MI
When I was in 3rd grade we went on a field trip to a place that made natural syrup. it was s o good. Supermarket syrup is so gross because it has corn syrup.


Chicken Slave
12 Years
Mar 19, 2007
Brick, NJ
You have to spend the extra $$$ for the real maple syrup from the grocery store. But I'd rather buy the real stuff from the mom and pop store, not the grocery store. Or better yet, from you guys - do you ship?


13 Years
Jan 18, 2007
But of course! I come from the land of maple syrup!

That's one of my favorite childhood memories with my dad - tapping all the trees in our yard and boiling for days and days. That's how I developed my preference for the "back-yard grade" syrup as opposed to the grade A light amber. The darker the better for me!

Yummy yum yum!


On vacation
13 Years
Jan 11, 2007
Ontario, CANADA
As a homebrewer and having graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering, I know that a tasty sort of "maple mead" can be fermented from maple syrup (although this is not distilled, like rum), so my first impression in thinking about your question was that the answer would be more economic than biochemical. With that in mind, I crunched the following numbers about the production of sugar from maple syrup and sugar cane.

Maple syrup is obtained by tapping (obtaining sap from a hole bored through the bark) a sugar maple during a short period of time in the spring. Depending on the tree's size, a sugar maple can support from one to four taps, and a modern sugarbush (aka, a sugar maple orchard) can support somewhere between 50-80 taps per acre each year. Each tap yields about six to ten gallons of sap. About ten gallons of sap are boiled down to one quart of syrup, so an acre of sugarbush can produce 30-80 quarts of syrup.

The "sugar" in both maple syrup and sugar cane is primarily sucrose, a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose. To determine the concentration of sucrose in a quart of maple syrup, I took a look at the back of the bottle of "real maple syrup" in my kitchen, and I also did some calculations based on the boiling temperature of maple syrup. The bottle in my kitchen said that there were about 2.32 moles of sucrose per quart of syrup. Syrup boils at 219.1 degrees Fahrenheit, which tells me that there are about 1.84 moles of sucrose per quart.

A mole of sucrose weighs about 364 grams, which means that we get about 1.5 to 1.8 pounds of sucrose per quart of syrup. Plugging this in with the production of 30-80 quarts of syrup per acre, we can obtain a maximum of almost 150 pounds of sugar per acre of sugarbush, but the yield can also be much lower.

Cane sugar is obtained by crushing sugar cane plants, extracting the liquid and then evaporating the liquid portions, leaving behind crystallized sucrose. Modern sugar cane processing methods yield about one pound of sugar for every ten pounds of cane, and modern sugar cane plantations can produce 30 to 40 tons of sugar cane each year. So, a modern plantation can easily produce three to four tons of sugar per acre.

Now, these numbers are for modern methods, but what about colonial times? Maple syrup production increased sharply during the middle of the 19th century (i.e., before and during the Civil War), when lidded metal buckets were first used to collect the sap. Prior to this time, buckets were uncovered, and the sap had to be strained to remove impurities. Modern high-volume sap production facilities have done away with the buckets entirely and use hoses and reverse-osmosis facilities to concentrate the syrup, but it looks like maple syrup production on modern scales began in the middle of the 19th century; prior to that, sugar yields were probably much lower.

Nineteenth century sugar cane facilities were not nearly as efficient as modern facilities. Sugar cane plantations could produce up to 1600 pounds of sugar per acre, but not all of them did so. Still, 19th century sugar cane sucrose production outstrips 21st century sugar maple sucrose production by more than a factor of 10, and it seems likely to me that this tremendous difference in productivity would hold true for colonial methods as well.

Some additional factors need to be considered. A sugar cane crop can be harvested in 12-16 months after planting, while sugar maple trees can take 35-80 years before they are ready to be tapped. In addition, the size (and therefore the age) of the tree determines how many taps it can support, so it might take up to a century before a "new" sugarbush is producing sap at peak efficiency. Finaly, sugar maples are only useful as sap producers when they are grown in a climate where there are hard freezes at night followed by temperatures above freezing during the day. A large colonial initiative to send maple trees to Europe failed because these conditions are not found in Europe. This would limit the productive range of the sugar maple in North America as well. Sugar cane on the other hand, has spread all over the tropical world.

So overall, it seems like any sort of maple syrup fermentation industry would be hard pressed to compete with the sugar cane liquor fermentation (i.e., rum) industry.

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