How to Make Maple Syrup

Last updated : 23 October 2014

how-to-make-maple-syrupYou make a batch of fluffy pancakes only to find that you have run out of maple syrup. Your breakfast is ruined.

By the time you go to the supermarket, the pancakes will be cold. What are pancakes without maple syrup?

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Maple syrup is very popular in Canada and United States. It is a luxury product and is used on all savory dishes, not just pancakes. It is even used on bacon and tastes delicious!

Maple sugaring was already in existence when the Pilgrims reached Plymouth in 1620. The Native Americans already knew how to use the sweet sap of the tree to make sugar.

In the earlier days, a different form of maple was used – maple sugar. Maple syrup came into existence a century later. The original quality maple syrups are expensive.

You can buy the cheaper versions, but they are mainly high fructose corn syrup. Also, the texture is extremely sticky. Almost slimy!

You want the real stuff, which is so expensive that every drop you pour over your waffles or pancakes makes you cringe.

Now, how if instead of going out to buy expensive maple syrup, you make it at home? It is inexpensive, and you can have a LOT of it without cringing.

Pour it over your pancakes, waffles, French toast and just anything you like without any feeling of guilt. The best part is that the homemade variety will cost you less than a dollar per bottle. Unbelievable, isn’t it?

You will stop buying the market one, even if you get the “original” variety.

Here are a few maple syrup recipes. The basic recipe is the same, but there are a few variations. Choose the one that you like best. All of them are fun, easy, and inexpensive.

The first recipe will tell you how to collect sap from your own maple tree and make maple syrup at home with its sap.

Recipe #1 – Maple Syrup from Maple Trees

If you have maple trees, you won’t need to ask how to make maple syrup at home – the artificial variety. Even a few maple trees can get you some good stuff. Here is how you can get the real stuff…

You will need:

  • 7/16 inch bit for boring a hole in the maple tree
  • A bitstock
  • Elderberry spouts
  • Containers to collect sap (avoid rusty pails)
  • Dry firewood for boiling sap
  • Syrup thermometer
  • Metal or glass storage containers

How to Make Maple Syrup

For making maple syrup from scratch, your maple trees must be ready for tapping. The time is right when days are above 32 degrees Fahrenheit and nights are below this temperature.

The time is also right when the sap begins to run from the maple trees. You must collect maple sap during this time. Later that this will give you sap with low sugar and undesirable taste.

tapping-maple-treesSelect the right trees for the tapping. Sugar maple is ideal for sap collection, as it has the most sugar content. Drill holes on that side of the tree receiving the maximum sun.

There are some rules that you must follow when you drill the hole. The hole should be the same size as the tap. The height of the hole from the ground should be between 1 foot to 4 feet and at a downward angle.

Attach a container to collect the sap. Keep it covered so that bugs and rainwater do not get into it. Do not leave the sap for a long time as it spoils if left out for too long.

After your collect the sap, filter it. Use a coffee filter for lesser quantities. About 40 gallons of the sap will give you one gallon of pure maple syrup.

Boil the sap to remove water. You will need an evaporator machine to boil it, but it is expensive. Alternatively, you can boil it in a saucepan. Keep the heat low.

Skim the sap initially to remove any dirt. The sap will boil with the foam rising to the top. Skim it off. The syrup is ready at 7 degrees Fahrenheit of boiling (219 degrees Fahrenheit). Use a thermometer to measure the temperature.

When the syrup is ready, filter it before you use it.

If you haven’t tasted pure maple syrup before, then you are in for a real treat. This maple syrup is also great as ice-cream topping or for sweetening purposes.

If you are unable to find the equipment to tap the trees, just buy a supply kit and get going. Nowadays, many stores sell a kit that can help you start with the tapping.

If you have just a few trees, then the best thing to do would be to collect sap everyday and refrigerate it. Take all of it out when you are ready to make maple syrup.

When you are preserving and storing it, make sure that you use a clean sterilized jar. Sterilize the lids too. Don’t fill the syrup to the top of the jar. Leave one and a half inch space and screw the lid tightly.

Seal the jar using paraffin wax. Keep the jar in a cool and dark place, away from sunlight.

Recipe #2

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Maple flavor

Here’s how to make it…

Step 1 – Pour 1 cup of water in a small saucepan and boil it.

Step 2 – When it comes to a boil, add the white sugar.

Step 3 – Add the brown sugar.

Step 4 – Add maple flavor.

Step 5 – Keep stirring the liquid, till the sugar dissolves.

Step 6 – Remove the sauce pan from heat and let it cool.

You can either forget it for a while and do something else or do your best to speed up the cooling process if you get impatient. Pour the cooled liquid in a syrup dispenser for immediate use.

Store the leftover syrup in a bottle and keep it in the fridge. If it is not too much, you can also store it in the pantry.

For those who love the flavor of butter, here is another recipe. You are sure to love it.

Recipe #3

Makes approximately 1 cup of maple syrup…

  • Water – 1/2 cup
  • Brown sugar – 1 cup
  • Honey – 3 tablespoons
  • Butter – 2 teaspoons
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of maple extract

It is best to buy maple extract from the market. Making it home is only going to be a long process that will also require knowledge and lot of equipment.

Combine water, sugar and honey in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. When the sugar dissolves, stir in the vanilla extract, maple extract and butter. Keep stirring till the butter melts.

Cool the syrup and store for use. As the syrup cools, it starts thickening. It is best to store it in the fridge.

Other Methods of Making Maple Syrup

Some people make maple syrup in an entirely different way. They place the saucepan on low heat and melt the brown and white sugar ensuring that it does not burn.

As the sugar begins to melt, add water and a pinch of salt. (All great cooks will tell you that anything sweet tastes better if you add a pinch of salt to it).

Let the mixture come to a boil. Remove from heat and finally add the maple flavor. Let it cool before storing it.

When it is cool, it should achieve a honey-like consistency.

Maple syrup recipes vary from place to place. Some people combine 2 cups of brown and 2 cups of white sugar or a cup of each type. The basic recipe calls for 2 parts of sugar combined with one part of water.

Double or halve the recipe according to the quantity you need. It has been observed that using just white sugar makes the maple syrup runny.

Adding honey or brown sugar is a great idea that thickens the syrup and gives it a warm golden color.

All the above recipes call for boiling either sugar syrup or the sap from the maple trees. Use a long-handled wooden spoon to avoid getting burnt.

If you are living in a place where you do not get maple syrup, maple flavor or maple extract, you can use vanilla pods, pumpkin pie spice or molasses as a substitute.

For those who love the original flavor of maple syrup, the taste may not be as good as the real thing but the taste of these substitutes is not too bad.

These recipes are so simple, easy and inexpensive that you can make them at home irrespective of whether times are lean or fat. It is the pure stuff that you get here with the same original taste.

You don’t dent your pocket spending money that is better spent elsewhere.

When your maple syrup is ready, you can use it for making other recipes that call for maple syrup. The butter maple syrup can also be made with the original syrup made from the sap.

Maple sugar candy is another treat that you can make with maple syrup. It is a great treat for children. But, all that is only after you make the maple syrup.

Get going now and enjoy your maple-syrup-making!


  1. Tesha says

    Oh myy goodness! Incredible article dude! Thanks, However I am experiencing issues with
    your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it.
    Is there anyone else having identical RSS problems? Anyone who knows tthe answer can you kindly respond?

    • Danelle says

      Hi there, It’s not an elderberry sprout that’s required, but an elderberry spout.The way I understand it is: The spout goes into the hole made in the maple tree. A tube is connected to the spout, which runs into the catch bucket. The sap runs through the spout and tubing into the bucket.
      Elderberry stalks have a spongy center that makes it easy to hollow. That’s partly why the Native Americans used elderberry specifically. I am not positive that the spout has to be made from elderberry now, but I suppose using elderberry would keep it authentic.
      I hope this helps you picture it all and understand it.
      Have a great weekend.

  2. D. Junette Adams says

    Hello Mike,

    Being on the western side of this country, and the fact that there are multiple species of maples in the “maple” (Acer) family, my question is the following:

    What is/are the specific species of maple tree(s) that is/are best suited for producing the sap/syrup? Thanks in advance for the info. DJ

    • says

      That’s a good question, I’m not the maple syrup expert, but hopefully one will see your question. I’d have to assume sugar maple, acer saccharum.

  3. says

    The fundamental steps for making pure maple syrup are basically the same as they were hundreds of years ago when the Native Americans first did it and then introduced it to the early immigrants from Europe. The simple description is that you collect sap from sugar maple trees and boil (evaporate) it until it reaches the proper density for syrup. The five steps involved from start to finish are: (1) preparing for the season; (2) determining WHEN to tap; (3) identifying the trees to be tapped and tapping them, (4) collecting the sap and processing (boiling/evaporating) it; (5) filtering, grading and packing the syrup. While the basic steps are the same as hundreds of years ago, new processes and technologies have been developed which have increased productivity and ensured consistent high quality syrup. But the end result is still that beautiful, wonderful tasting amber liquid we call maple syrup. For a full description of the step-by-step process, download the Connecticut Maple Syrup Producers Manual . You may also download a glossary of terms . MSPAC offers a Maple 101 course once a year. If you are interested, contact us . Preparation is critical. Months before the start of the short maple syrup season, the sugarmaker has been preparing for the upcoming spring season. Tasks such as cutting and splitting firewood for the sugarhouse and stringing and/or repairing the tubing in the sugarbush have taken place months before. A final cleaning, careful examination and even testing of equipment is the sugarmakers last task before the start of syrup season. Lack of good preparation often results in a poor season.

  4. Bob says

    Shame on you for calling #2 and #3 “Maple Syrup”. It may be a sweet syrup, but NOT MAPLE. I have live all of my 64 years in Vermont, and will have nothing but Real Maple Syrup on Pancakes and Waffles. It also goes well on Vanilla Ice Cream for a “Sundae”. Another use is mixing with vinegar for a sweet and sour salad dressing.
    I have never had the pleasure of making large quantities of Maple Syrup, but have done as you describe and it fills the house with a wonderful aroma as it boils. Be careful though, if you have a house with wallpaper it can cause the wallpaper to peel (voice of experience). If it can be done outside, that is safer and can be a real treat for kids.
    As for those other things, I will leave it for people who have never had the real thing.

  5. Paul Gathany says

    Hey Mike…I have done this, as a young boy in Western New York. I no longer have access to hard maple trees, otherwise, I be at it! I worked in a sugar bush as a high schooler. There is nothing like the real thing!

    Another thing you might encourage people to do, is make apple cider. My son-in- law and I have done this for a couple years. With neighbors and our own trees, we make lots of cider. I use a method I located on the Web. Just google, “Whiz Bang Cider Press”
    You might be able to work something out with the author to publish his material.

    I have made the press and grinder following his plans and procedure. We started out grinding the apples with my son-in-laws meat grinder. This year, I have made the grinder in his plan book.

    It’s a fun family project and lots of great cider. We put gallons (26) in the freezer and have it all winter and for holidays. We finished the last gallon last week. We found it is best to let the Cider sit in the frig unfrozen for 2-5 days before drinking. The full bodied original flavor seems to return. We also made “Perry”–pressed pears.

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