Maple syrup is a staple for lots of pantries. It’s packed with flavor, nutrients, and has many health benefits. Maple syrup has a unique way of coming to your table. Have you ever taken the time to look at what it takes to bring 100% pure maple syrup to you? Believe it or not, it’s a very long and detailed process at which The Sugarman of Vermont excels. Today we are going to talk about making maple syrup from tapping trees to delivering to your door.
Making Maple Syrup – From Tapping Trees to Delivering to Your Door
Where Maple Sap comes from
Many people know that maple syrup comes from tapping a tree but beyond that they don’t know much. Maple trees accumulate starch during their growing season. When they reach the season when everything begins to thaw in the spring, enzymes transform the starch into sugar. The water absorbed through the roots mix with the sugar to make the sap. Sap is what is used to make syrup. This sap becomes available to harvest once every spring through the process of tapping the trees.
Tapping a maple tree for sap
There is a science and an art to tapping trees for maple syrup, and Vermont provides ideal conditions to produce some of the world’s tastiest syrup. Tapping a maple tree for syrup can only be done when temperatures are over 32° F. Many will say that it is important that there is a freeze at night and then a day that goes over 32° F. The freeze and thaw cycle alters the pressure inside the tree and starts the sap flowing. Syrups change in color and flavor depending on when in the season they are made.
When tapping trees, the type of tree comes into play as well. Most will say the order of trees can be sorted by a higher sugar content down to a lower one. These would be sugar, black, red, and then silver. Each tree needs to be mature and have consistent exposure to daylight. Moreso, these trees take up to forty years before they can be tapped.
Maple syrup makers will tap a tree using either a metal tap or newer tubed taps. These taps are put into a mature maple tree using a hole that is typically drilled into the tree. These hoses or taps collect the syrup as it drips from the tree. This drip happens when pressure changes within the tree due to the weather. Once a tree is tapped, the average tree can produce ten to twenty gallons of sap per tap.
Preparing maple sap for syrup making
It can take about 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup. This is because maple sap is roughly 97% water. The amount of syrup to sap you can make will vary depending on the sugar content of the sap but this is considered a fair rough estimate. Once the sap has been removed from the tree it will be moved to containers. The next step is work to remove the water content from syrup. Many syrup makers use Reverse Osmosis machines to achieve efficiency and reduce energy consumption. This process takes the sap down to a concentrate with a 20% sugar content opposed to the 2% the sap originally had.
Boiling the sap for syrup
Sap can go bad in as little as three hours so it is important that this is done in a timely manner. At this point in the process the syrup is boiled over time to remove more of the water content from the sap. If the water evaporates too quickly or too slowly that will adversely affect the color and flavor of the syrup.
The big surprise for some is that there is no set cooking time for syrup. Experienced syrup makers can tell by looking at syrup if it is ready. Traditional boiling techniques can take anywhere from nine to fifty-six hours to complete the process of boiling. This means there is a large margin for success or error. Most syrup makers will invest a great deal of time and research into perfecting the proper cook time which the Sugarman’s many maple farm families have perfected over the generations.
Testing the quality of the syrup
Once the sap is turned into syrup it is tested using a hydrotherm to ensure the sugar levels are correct. Once the sugar levels are right on the syrup, it will be sent through filters to remove any impurities such as calcium residue ensuring the best syrup quality is maintained throughout the process.
Storing the syrup between steps
Syrup is then hot packed into sterilized food grade barrels for pasteurization with a sample taken during this process for each drum to ensure proper grading, quality and traceability. Grading of the syrup is important for being able to define the taste, color and flavor. Lower grade syrup such as commercial grade is used in industrial settings, whereas higher grade syrups are used for the retail market. The process of pasteurizing the syrup in drums is to retain its quality and prevent fermentation. This also keeps the syrup from crystalizing.
Filtering and bottling the syrup
Syrup will next be warmed in heaters before being run through another round of filters prior to bottling. This step is meant to insure that the syrup will be perfectly clear, free of any impurities. The syrup will be heated to 185 F which sterilizes the bottles, pasteurizing the syrup to guarantee its shelf life. With these procedures syrup can have a shelf life of two years.
Distributing bottled syrup
Once the syrup has been bottled, each bottle will be sealed. This is meant to protect the buyer while preserving the syrup at the same time. From here the syrup will either be moved to retail locations or be packaged for sale via a website. This will depend greatly on where and how you buy your syrup. Buying syrup online from a trusted syrup company such as The Sugarman of Vermont can guarantee that you receive the best possible product closer to its bottling date.
See how our 100% Pure Maple Syrup tastes for yourself
We deliver right to your door! And may we suggest these Coconut Plantain Pancakes?
Preparation Time: 20 Minutes
2 Plantains (ripe, peeled)
½ tsp Sea Salt
½ All Purpose Gluten- Free Flour
2 tbsp Coconut Oil
- In a blender combine the plantain, eggs, and salt. Slowly add the flour until everything is well combined.
- Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add ¼ cup of the batter at a time to form pancakes, cooking for about 1 or 2 minutes per side.
- Serve pancakes with your choice of toppings and enjoy!
Leftovers: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Freeze for up to 2 months.
Serving Size: One serving equals approximately four pancakes.
Additional Toppings: Top with The Sugarman of Vermont Pure Maple Syrup, honey, cinnamon, fresh fruit, chia jam, cottage cheese, nut butter, coconut chips or crushed nuts.
No All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour: Use all purpose flour or cassava flour instead.