Hello, my friends!
Some of you who have been around for a while may remember last year’s series I did on our maple sugaring – But for those of you who are new, here’s a quick explanation. For the past 8 years, my family has tapped maple trees and made maple syrup. In this post, I’ll cover everything from tapping our trees to jars of finished maple syrup. And at the end, I’ll be doing a giveaway with a half-pine of this year’s syrup, maple fudge, and the book, Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen. Sounds fun, right?
Enjoy lots of woodsy photos, crazy siblings, and our maple syrup adventures!
To be honest, I didn’t do much this year, or at least as much as I usually do. I’ve carried a few buckets, opened the spigot, helped with the much-needed decorating for the sugar shack, and stayed up late to provide moral support while Mom & Dad finished one evening, but I’ve mostly taken pictures and worked on inside chores. So, this year’s syrup is mostly going to be the labor of my parents, brothers, and little sister. But, I do have pictures of most things!
Let’s start with lots and lots of white buckets that Malachi cleaned one Saturday morning. We use to hang bags to the tree, but we’ve switched to buckets so they won’t burst. They’re definitely not the prettiest to look at, but at least they’re clean. 😛
Once you have plenty of clean buckets, it’s time to tap your tree. Basically, you drill a hole into a maple tree, add a spile, (the faucet that the sap will drip out of!), hang your bucket, and you have a tree with a bucket on it. Very rewarding, I know. XD
Another tree with a just as lovely white bucket! Time for a quick lesson! Sap flows when the temp is above freezing during the day and below freezing at night. Sap flows up in the springtime to help generate energy, while the new leaves are forming.
We tapped 78 trees by the end of the season, I believe! Not all of them were on our property (e.g. we tapped both of my grandparents’ trees they have in their yards. Don’t worry, we didn’t walk into someone else’s yard and start drilling holes in their trees.)
When your trees have been tapped then you wait a few days for your buckets to fill, it’s time to go and collect! We used to carry ALL of our buckets down from the woods (a lot of which were on a very steep hill) but then we got the Ranger two years ago and the four-wheeler last spring which makes collecting a lot easier. (Does anyone love the chaos that’s going on in the corner of this picture? You can thank two crazy dogs and one little brother. 😜)
Dad and Malachi attached a 65-gallon tank to the four-wheeler and Malachi rode around collecting with that. Quite the change from past years! 😀
This is our maple sugar shack that’s really just the overhang from our garage. It’s usually neater over here so you don’t have to walk through a maze to get to the boiler (which is technically called an evaporator, but we always just call it the boiler), but this picture is in its messier state. Mom and I also hung string lights around one day, and they were so pretty at night when we out to check sap/finish!
Once you start the fire in the boiler, you pour the collected sap in. It takes forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, so by the end of the season for you to have a good amount of syrup, you have to collect a LOT of sap.
Oh! This was something that I actually did help with this year. xD I did the treacherous job of driving the ranger down to one of our many wood piles and filling it, and then bringing it back and letting the boys stack it. I love how it looks like the wood is glowing in this picture!
Once the sap has been boiling for more than a few hours (how long it takes depends on how much sap is in the boiler – it usually takes 3 – 4 days (with breaks) of boiling and adding for us to get 6 gallons of syrup.) and is starting to look like syrup, you check it using the hydrometer. The hydrometer measures the density of the syrup, and it has to reach 59 brix (or be close) for it to be the right density.
You keep checking it – about every 3 to 5 minutes – until it reaches 58 since it’ll get to 59 while we pull it off. And then. . . .
You pull the syrup off the boiler! Our boiler is bowed slightly in the bottom of it, which is why someone has to use a spatula or scraper to get it all out.
Technically, it’s best to open the spigot first so the syrup has a way to get out of the boiler. XD We just put it in a 5-gallon bucket (or two) and then we’ll put it into jars once it’s filtered.
Then the sap that’s now syrup starts to pour out! Seeing the golden and caramel-colored syrup is quite satisfying. 😀 We’ve accidentally managed to melt three buckets because they were too close to the boiler. o.O
Once we get as much syrup as we can scrape from the boiler and into the bucket, someone starts pouring in new sap so the bottom of boiler doesn’t burn. The screen is on there is to make sure that there aren’t any big things (e.g. bugs, leaves, etc) getting into the boiler.
I glanced out my window one foggy morning and noticed how neat the wood smoke from the boiler looked. This isn’t exactly a syrup photo, but also, it is, so I’m putting it here, haha.
By the end of the season, we ended up with 26 gallons of syrup. o.O Which is 1040 gallons of sap, all of which was all collected by my brothers or dad, so we get to thank them for the syrup this year.
Let’s start talking about the giveaway!
- The giveaway is only open to U.S. residents – I’m so sorry, guys! Shipping in the U.S. is already expensive enough as it is.
- If you’re under 18, please get a parent’s permission before entering since I’ll need your address if you win to send you your prize.
- The Giveaway starts today, the 7th, and ends at midnight on the 13th. I will announce the winner on the 14th, and I will email them. If the winner doesn’t respond by April 20th, I will have to pick a different winner.
- Once you enter, there are plenty of ways to earn bonus entries — There is a list on the giveaway page when you enter!
What the winner will win:
- a pint jar of this year’s syrup
- the middle-grade book, Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen (I love this book! It’s so sweet and is all about making maple syrup!)
- homemade maple fudge
If you have any questions, comment them below and I’ll get back to you! Now, let the entering begin!
Have you tapped trees before? What’s your favorite thing to add syrup to? Are YOU entering the giveaway?? Let’s chat in the comments!
That is so cool! Do you have like a special pancake breakfast after you finish making syrup?
After we finished the first batch, we had breakfast for dinner with waffles! 😋😁
oh a of this sounds so delicious! after reading t he laura i falls wilder books years ago, me and my sister wanted to tap trees, but we’ve never have enough maple tree to make it worth it 😂
i just entered the giveaway! everything sounds sooooo yummy!
Aw, that’s so cute! 🥰 Thank you for entering!
Grace A. Johnson says
This is SO interesting, Pearl!! Thank you so much for sharing! (And omgosh, maple fudge sounds SO GOOD. 😋🤤)
I’m so glad you found it interesting!! I was a bit hesitant since it wasn’t something I’d normally post, but I’m happy you enjoyed it. 😄 Thank you for reading and entering! <33
This is so cool! Our family makes maple syrup, too. It’s such a fun process— and it’s hard to beat a plate of french toast with fresh maple syrup! Also… maple fudge?? That sounds amazing!
Oh, really? That’s amazing, Brittney! It really is an awe-inspiring process. I made it last year and it was delicious so whoever wins it is lucky. 😜 Thank you!
ahh, this was such a fun and interesting read! 😀 sounds like a really cool family activity ~ thanks for sharing <3
Aw, it’s definitely one of my favorite things we do. 😁 Thanks for reading, Zo! <3
Lily Wallaker says
This sounds so cool…and that is a TON of syrup! Great work, and I can’t wait for the giveaway!
I know, I don’t know what we’re going to do with all of it. 😂 Thank you for entering, Lily!
Allison Alexander says
Ooh how neat! My family has tapped trees before but certainly not 78; mostly just trees around our house. That’s a ton of sap and syrup! Also Miracles on Maple Hill is such a sweet book. ❤️
That’s awesome! It’s such a neat process that even a small amount of trees can be fun. 😄 I agree; it’s one of my favorites. 💕
Belle Thomas says
Ooh this is so fun! My Dad decided to tap trees one year, it was great to have our own syrup! I love driving around New England this time of year because you can see all of the taps in trees everywhere!
Aw, so glad you enjoyed it! That’s really neat – homemade maple syrup is so much better than anything store-bought. Yeah, I get really excited when I see lots of taps on trees. 😊
Mia Harden says
wow, that is a lot of sap for just a little syrup. i wouldn’t have the patience!
It’s a long process, for sure! But so worth it. 😉
Bella Waugh says
That’s super cool!! We’ve talked about seeing if we can tap our trees, since we have 4 maples, but I’m not sure if our mild Southern weather will let us! XD
Such a cool opportunity you have, Pearl!! Also YES I’m entering the giveaway!!! I hope I win!! XD
I never thought about tapping down South. . . I wonder if it’d work. XD
I know! Thank you so much for reading and entering!! 🥰 ✨
Bella Waugh says
Yeah, I don’t know if it’d work or not but *shrugs*! Of course!!
Selah Shupe says
Lovely!! Thank you for sharing, love the giveaway!! How fun
Thank you for your sweet comment and entering the giveaway!
The conversion ratio… yikes! 0.o This looks sooo yummy, great job! This is an amazing post!!!
I know, it’s definitely a bit crazy as to how much sap you need for only a little bit of syrup. SO glad you enjoyed the post!!
A. J. Syngraféas says
Ooh! This was such a fun post to read! The syrup looks delicious! And so beautiful!
Aw, thanks, Aliya!
Deigan Marie says
Wow, that looks like a lot of fun! I’ve always wanted to tap trees 😂. Does sound exhausting, though 😜. Man, fudgeeeee!!! That sounds so good! *immediately signs up*
I hope you get the opportunity sometime! It’s such a neat process. 😄 Thanks for entering the giveaway!!
Chloe Ruth says
Aw, I love this, Pearl! I’m sure it’s a great way to have family time — something hard to do in large families! Great job to you all with all that sap! (That’s A LOT of sap. XD)
So glad you enjoyed it, sis! <3 I know, finding enough family time is hard but worth it. Why thank you. XD (HAHA I KNOW.)
Ava Coulter says
Wow, Pearl, this is so neat!! I’ve always wanted to do this. Maple fudge??? That sounds immaculate! This is such a fun post! <333
I hope you’ll get the chance sometime! It is SO good. 😋 So happy you enjoyed the post! <33
It looks like a lot of work,but I’m sure you can not beat the taste of it on pancakes or French toast 😋😃🥞!Also, what a fun giveaway!!!
Waffles are my fave, but yesss, for sure! 😄 Thanks for entering, Emily! 🥰
Charlotte Mills says
I loved reading this post, friend!! I knew your family tapped and boiled maple syrup, but it was so fascinating to get a clearer understanding of the process. 😀
Yeah, I’ve told you quite a bit about it. 😁 Thank you for reading, Char! <3
Loved reading this post! Our family tried tapping trees once… let’s just say it didn’t work out. 😂 Lovely family tradition!
I am entering the giveaway! Great idea, will be lots of fun!
Oh dear. XD What happened, if you want to share? 😀 I agree! Thanks for entering! <3
Virginia Henderson says
This was cool and very informative. Sounds like a ton of hard work but totally worth it in the end. Thanks for hosting the giveaway, sounds so fun. 🙂
I’m so happy you enjoyed the post! Thanks for entering the giveaway!
KJ Lynn says
Mmm, this looks really good! My family loves maple syrup, but we’ve never tapped any trees.
Ooh if you get the chance, I’d recommend doing it; it’s such a neat experience!
I really enjoyed this post Pearl. This is one of my favorite times of year!
Mine too, Dad! It’s so much fun.
This is super cool!
I love maple syrup, but like several other people that have already commented, I’ve never tapped any trees before.
I really enjoyed reading this post and the pictures were beautiful:)
I hope you get to tap sometime; it’s so much fun!
Aw, so happy you enjoyed it. <3 Thank you for reading!
An amazing post as usual, and please tell your sisters I say hi!
Thank you! <33 I will! (: