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Learn how to make maple syrup with this simple maple syrup evaporator. I'll show you how to tap and collect sap from your sugar maples and then boil down the sap. This setup uses propane and 2 outdoor propane stoves.
We have used several methods to make maple syrup, watch all our maple syrup videos here and we have built a DIY maple syrup evaporator out of a file cabinet.
What's great about this simple maple syrup evaporator rig is you can walk away from it. You don't have to watch it constantly. I have mine outside the kitchen, and every 15 min or so I go out and check it.
I found a used large stainless steel pot that was probably used to boil clams, and I found a large shallow stainless steel bowl at the dollar store. The idea behind this DIY maple syrup evaporator is the cold sugar maple sap is brought up to a boil in the first large pot, and then it is ladled into the shallow finishing pan to be boiled down into maple syrup.
Sugar Maple Sap becomes maple syrup when the sap reaches 7.5 degrees F above the local boiling point. Boil a small pan of water on your stove and when it boils, measure the temperature with your digital thermometer. Add 7.5 degrees to that temp - at our house the boil happens at 210F - and when the sap reaches that temperature, it is now syrup. Quickly turn off the heat on the finishing pan burner, and strain the syrup in to jars. If you are up to it, you can let the sap boil to a slightly higher temperature for a slightly darker syrup - be careful not to burn the finishing pan.
Parts You Need For The Simple Maple Syrup Evaporator
- Propane Burner https://amzn.to/2GezLE0
- Wide Stainless Bowl https://amzn.to/2J1SkJo
- 20 Quart Pot https://amzn.to/2GxaSTt
- Digital Thermometer https://amzn.to/2GDEiiC
- Fine Mesh Sieve https://amzn.to/2IbeRlF
I strongly suggest buying a digital kitchen thermometer, old style candy thermometers are hard to use with this setup.
If you see your finishing pan foaming big time, you probably have syrup, and probably the temperature is above the ideal, turn off the propane and pour off the syrup.
The drawback of this system is that it uses quite a bit of propane, not the best use of what you've got. The plan is to build a wood fired evaporator next year. I have a ton of white pine from the trees we dropped that would fire a sugar shack nicely.
Watch all our Maple Syrup How To Videos here.
Here is a great PDF from the Univ of Maine on how to tap trees and boil sap
Questions? Comments? let us know below:
That's pretty great! You guys make it look so easy. I was wondering what happens if you go a little above the 7 degrees past boiling point. Boiling point 212 degrees (for water, anyway), so stop syrup at close to 220.....will it be ruined if it gets to 222, for example? It would be fun to try this if I can find sugar maples around here. I think we have primarily red maples (not good for syrup).
I live down in Maryland and recently had to have a Maple tree trimmed back. Three days after it was cut, about nine in the morning, I noticed the tree was dripping profusely from all the cut limbs. I felt bad enough it had to be trimmed back, so I decided to collect the sap just for the heck of it. I had about 10 containers of all shapes and sizes , metal, plastic, glass and ceramic spread out under the limbs. In about three hours, I had almost a gallon! I boiled it down all the rest of the day. I was just hoping to have a couple of tablespoons. I wish I could tell you I had some delicious syrup that evening but the last fifteen minutes I was distracted away from my boiling pot. My sugary residue was just burnt enough to overwhelm the sweet maple flavor. Oh well, now that I've seen your videos, I'll be trying taping next year. I'll let you know how southern Maple syrup turns out.
Eric Gunnar Rochow
yeah, you have to watch the sap as it gets near its boiling point, or else it can burn. sap from other kinds of maple trees can make maple syrup, but the sugar ratio is higher, i believe. be interesting to see how that works out. thx, eric.
Eric Gunnar Rochow
if you let syrup go above 7.5F above local boiling point, it can either burn or crystalize later on. thx, eric.
This was interesting and informative. We tapped about 20 trees this past season (our first). I built a make shift arch out of cinder block and brick. It made it through the season, but I will line it this year with fire brick.......the bricks and blocks eventually disintegrated. We ended up with about 3 gallons of syrup and it was really good. About 1/3 of our trees were sugar maples, the rest were red maples and they worked fine. The concentration of sugar isn't as great in the reds, but it produces good syrup. This was a fun activity.
Great VID on maple syrup.
We have lots of birch and aspen trees. Is there anything good to come from that sap?
Eric Gunnar Rochow
People do tap black birch, i have never done it. The sugar maple is used because its sap has a high sugar content compared to the sap of other trees, not sure about aspen, worth looking into! eric.
For an easy woodfired model, look to craigslist. I found a box style wood stove for $25. Should last forever. Basically a 2'X16"X16" cast iron box and removable lid. It's a common cabin stove from the '20s through the 50's so you should be able to find one. Added 2 sections of flue pipe and a damper. Perfect fit for a stainless steam table tray (like in the Chinese buffet). With a hot, tended fire (and a few beers) production from silver maple sap was about 2 gal per day. At the end of a day, I'd fire it with an all-nighter, top the sap pan off, loosely fit the cover and let it steam overnight. Would boil off another 2 -3 gal of sap while I slept.