Learn about maple syrup and how it is obtained. The sap is usually running from the maple trees by the end of February, and if you happen to live in an area with deciduous (leaf losing) trees, you may find a local nature center that does maple-tapping demonstrations.
Videos to watch:
The History of Maple Products
History of Maple Syrup
Some special tools are needed for tapping trees and making syrup. These can be recorded in the "Tapping Tools" mini-book.
Tools needed to tap the tree include:
1. An auger-- a hand drill or power drill with a 7/16 inch drill bit
2. spiel (preferably with hooks)
3. sap bucket
Supplies needed to make maple syrup:
1. large plastic pail
2. large pot
3. cheesecloth or cone-shaped paper coffee filters
4. canning jars or bottles
5. cooking or candy thermometer
6. oven mitts
7. slotted spoon
What to do:
1. Clean Your Equipment:
Clean all of your equipment and rinse it well with hot water. Let it dry completely.
2. Pick Your Tree:
Select a maple tree that is at least 10 inches in diameter at 4.5 feet high. Do not attempt to tap a smaller tree; you will do permanent damage.
3. Tap Your Tree:
Do not tap a tree when the temperature is below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
At about 4.5 feet, drill a hole on the sunny (south) side of your tree. Drill on an upward angle to a depth of no more than 3 inches. If your tree is larger than 18 inches in diameter, you can drill another hole. It should be at least 6 inches away from the first hole (you want to measure horizontally not vertically). Carefully and gently tap the spiel into the hole.
4. Collect the Sap:
Place your bucket on the hook (below the spiel). Attach a cover to prevent unpleasant things from getting into your sap such as bugs, bark, and rain. Collect your sap at least once a day. If you leave it longer than a day, it may spoil. If the weather gets below freezing, your bucket might split. If you can't boil your sap immediately, store it in your freezer. Before you boil it, strain it through a cheesecloth.
5. Boil the Sap:
Bring the sap to a boil. Continue boiling until it reaches 219 degrees Fahrenheit.
(If you would like to try this at home, I highly recommend that you read the information provided in The Maple Syrup Book by Eagleson & Hasner)
6. Filter and Bottle:
You can use any bottle you would like to store your syrup as long as it is clean and dry.
Filter your syrup through a cheesecloth or a few cone-shaped coffee filters stack together. You want to remove the sugar sand that was produced while the sap was boiling. Pour filtered syrup into the bottle, attach the cap, and place the container on its side (this will sterilize the lid).
Source: The Maple Syrup Book by Eagleson and Hasner