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This beginner’s guide to making backyard maple syrup includes tips, tricks, and important must-have maple syrup supplies so you can be ready and prepared to make homemade maple syrup from your very own backyard maple trees.
Homemade Backyard Maple Syrup
We will start this post by saying that we are not maple syrup experts by any means. We are just two modern-day homesteaders who like to tend to our garden, take care of our chickens, and explore new homesteading projects.
Our new project this Spring was taking an attempt at making homemade maple syrup from our backyard maple trees. We were surprised how relatively easy the process was and are pleased with the nearly 1 gallon of maple syrup we produced.
Collecting maple sap is a green, environmentally sustainable process that can be enjoyed by anyone with a healthy, mature maple tree in their backyard.
We think other people should enjoy the magic of their backyard maple trees and give homemade maple syrup a try, so we put together this list of all the most important maple syrup supplies we needed – from tree to bottle.
Maple Syrup Supplies
Below you will find all of the maple syrup supplies we needed in order to collect the sap from the trees in our backyard, boil the sap down into syrup, and then pack and can the homemade maple syrup for future use.
Supplies for Tapping the Maple Tree
Below you will find the most important supplies needed to tap your maple tree and collect the sap. This includes a drill, a properly sized drill bit, a mallet, a spile, and a hook.
You will use this drill bit in your drill to create a hole in the tree bark which you will insert the spile. Double-check to ensure that you are using the proper drill bit for your spile size. There are also drill bits made for a 5/16" tap hole, if that is the size of your spile.
Spiles are the metal pieces used to tap into the tree and hold the collection bucket. They come in either 7/16" or 5/16" sizes and they can come in either stainless steel or plastic. Double-check to ensure that you are using the proper drill bit for your spile size. Ensure the splie includes a hook for hanging your bucket of choice.
Sap collecting buckets can be either metal or plastic. We prefer metal buckets over sacks for the sturdiness and ability to stand up to high winds. This 2-gallon aluminum bucket is ideal for hanging on a hook from the splie in the tree to collect sap for you.
Don't forget the lid for your sap bucket! A lid is necessary to keep out any unwanted plant matter like fallen leaves, unwanted animals like squirrels or birds and helps to protect your sap collection from other foreign materials.
These Food Grade buckets & lids make the perfect storage containers for safely storing collected bulk sap in a cold area before boiling or processing. We prefer these 5-gallon buckets for their ease of moving and lifting, and because they can be stacked when in use or stored for non-use. Ensure you are purchasing a Food Grade bucket as you will be cooking the sap eventually to consume.
We use a paper filter when transferring the sap from the 5-gallon buckets to the stockpot in order to take the first step in removing any excess tree plant-matter or any physical impurities like dirt or bugs.
When you first begin to cook down your sap, you will find that it takes a long time to evaporate the water. A very large stockpot, like this 50-quart stockpot, works better than smaller pots because it gives more surface area for the liquid to evaporate. This 50-quart pot is also ideal for the ease of boiling a lot of sap a one time. A lid is not necessary as you will want to let the excess moisture escape as you boil down your sap.
When our sap is mostly evaporated, it is then transferred from the 50-quart pot to the 16-quart pot and moved inside to the stovetop. This brings you in from the cold and helps you to have better control over the heat.
The use of a propane burner is easier to control, convenient and sometimes faster than the traditional sap boiling over an open fire, although either option will work just fine. Remember, you will need to buy a propane tank in addition to this stand.
When the syrup is done cooking and ready to be packed, we strain it through a cloth filter lined with another paper filter to ensure a final removal of any potential impurities or contaminants. This filter is washable and re-usable.