Our Longest Maple Sap Boiling Ever

A 36 Hour Sap Boil

Never during my Toronto Corso Italia years would I have thought I’d be maple sap boiling in a rural community. I never even attended an Ontario maple syrup festival during my city life years, but that hasn’t stopped me from tapping maple trees for their yummy goodness. 

Maple sap boiling is a time consuming process, therefore it’s important to binge watch movies or TV shows. During one maple sap boil, it’s easy to complete a full Netflix series or multiple movie sequels . You never know how much binge watching there will be because many factors influence how long a maple sap boil will last, including amount of water in the sap, elevation, and barometric pressure.

Maple sap boiling setup on two burners.

Approximately twenty-four to thirty liters of maple sap will be needed to boil off to get one yummy liter of maple syrup. To achieve this we use a thirty bucket hobbyist level evaporator from CDL, but we only put out 15 buckets. This may change in the future, but the 15 bucket system provides plenty of syrup for personal and gifting purposes.

We collect sap for a few days before commencing our maple sap boiling, emptying buckets into food grade pails. The pails are buried into snow for a few days until enough sap is collected to fill the 16×32 maple sap evaporator, which is approximately 120 liters. 

The evaporator sits on a double burner powered by two propane tanks. (In summer months we can remove the evaporator and use a burner for canning our garden vegetables outside.) With the evaporator full of sap we fire up the burners and begin the long road to sweetdom.

Unlike pro sappers who constantly are stoking the flames to keep the temperatures high, our hobbyist maple sap boiling setup allows us to check on it every two hours. Pulling an all nighter is a must because the process may last longer than 24 hours.

Our second boil for maple syrup season 2022 lasted over thirty-six hours! With over 150 liters of sap collected from a great run, the evaporator was continuously filled as space permitted. Adding to the finishing time, and the amount of binge watching. Note the closer we get to achieving syrup status the more frequent we are in the Sugar Shack, which has excellent internet access.

When approximately 90 per cent of the maple sap is boiled off, the switch on the evaporator is thrown. Emptying the boiling sap out of the evaporator, through a filter, and into a smaller canning sized pot that is used for finishing the process.

When Is Maple Sap Boiling Done? 

Determining when the sap has become syrup requires precise measuring, because elevation and barometric pressure influence boiling point. Taste testing plays a critical role in determining when maple sap boiling is completed too, and testing really is the best part of the whole process.

For testing purposes a cappuccino glass is filled with near boiling sap, creating a most excellent drink when slightly cooled. No waffles required, just smash the sappy syrupy drink back like a cappuccino. 

CPG companies add thickener to their products like molasses, the Enchanted Forest maple syrup consistency is slightly thinner because there are no additives. I’d never thought about doing a shooter of store bought maple syrup, but our homegrown maple syrup has the consistency perfect for drinking.

Speaking from experience, a spoonful of maple syrup helps the medicine go down.

Rural Reflections of a Toronto Hipster

The exact maple sap boiling point is determined by barometric pressure, and because this fluctuates, the boiling point changes. It’s very important to calibrate the hygrometer to that day’s boiling point otherwise you are liable to overcook the sap.

When sap is overcooked it becomes crystalized, and more akin to maple rock candy than maple syrup. The results are still tasty, but it’s not suitable for waffles.

Hobbyist sappers really need to prepare for a long maple sap boil. Clear the calendar, and binge watch Netflix’s Bridgerton or spaghetti western series Dollars (A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly).

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Tags : maple sap boilingmaple syrup season 2022
Matt Mernagh

The author Matt Mernagh

I’m a twenty-year communication professional, experienced in innovative corporate communication and disruptive marketing strategies, website content creation, podcasting, video storytelling, good ole fashion book writing and newspaper journalism.