How to Make Maple Syrup in Four Easy Steps + Recipes

If you want to know how to make maple syrup, you’ve come to the right place. Not only will you learn a secret recipe that’s been passed down for generations, but we’ll also tell you which maple trees give the best sap.

So, if you’re ready to welcome this natural sweetener into your diet, roll up your sleeves, and we’ll meet you in the kitchen. 

Let’s get cooking!

What Is Maple Syrup

Before venturing into the art of making maple syrup, let’s explain exactly what it is to those unfamiliar with it.

Maple syrup is a natural sweetener that some claim to be more nutritious than sugar. It’s derived from maple tree sap. 

Besides being tasty and sweet, it offers many health benefits:

  • It can protect the skin
  • It contains numerous antioxidants 
  • It helps fight inflammatory diseases 
  • It’s an excellent alternative to sugar

The First Nations making maple syrup were Indigenous tribes of North America. According to the legend of the Algonquin (original natives of eastern Ontario and southern Quebec), people used to drink maple syrup directly from the tree. 

However, this was said to have made them lazy. So, a spirit named Nanabozho cast a spell on the tree, turning the sap watery, which meant it had to be processed before consuming. 

Today, Canada is the world’s largest maple syrup producer. Quebec holds about 70% of the world’s maple supplies. In 2020 alone, Canada’s maple products exports reached a whopping $476 million.

How to Make Maple Syrup — A Step by Step Guide

You don’t have to scroll through Reddit or Google to learn how to make this natural sweetener. Just keep reading! We’re about to lead you through the whole process step by step — from collecting the sap to boiling it and filtering the syrup. 

Step One — Collecting the Sap

This is the first thing you need to do in the process of making maple syrup. There are three types of maple trees you can tap:

  • Sugar maple (Acer saccharum): This tree produces traditional maple syrup, as its sap contains higher sugar levels than other varieties. It’s identifiable by its dark-coloured bark, pointed buds, and five-lobed leaves.
  • Black maple: Although it looks slightly different from the sugar maple, making maple syrup from its sap is quite similar. That’s why some syrup producers treat them as the same species.
  • Red maple (Acer rubrum): This type is easy to spot with its red-coloured, rounded buds and three-lobed leaf. But keep in mind that the buds of the red maple trees expand in late spring. As a result, the sap becomes less flavourful and not ideal for maple syrup production.

To collect the sap, you need to tap the maple tree by drilling a hole, placing a bucket under the tap hole, and catching the liquid. Depending on the weather conditions, collecting the sap usually takes four to six weeks, so be patient.

Tip: You should only tap trees older than 40 years and no smaller than 25 centimetres in diameter. Ideally, you’d tap them in the late winter or early spring. 

Step Two — Storing the Sap

This is one of the most critical steps of making maple syrup. The sap is like milk in that it can quickly spoil if not stored in a cold place. Therefore, you need to use it within a week and boil it to eliminate bacteria.

Step Three — Boiling the Sap

Make sure you have the following equipment for boiling the sap:  

  • Natural gas burner
  • 50 qt boiling pot 
  • Stir paddle
  • Skimming spoon
  • Propane tank

How to boil down maple syrup? In order to turn the watery sap into syrup, you’ll need to:

  • Make a fire in a safe place. Due to the large quantity of steam, it’s best to do this outdoors.
  • Pour a total of 5 gallons (19 litres) of sap into the boiling pot. You can also start with 2–3 gallons (7–11 litres) and add the rest after the boiling has begun (about an hour).
  • Boil the sap for about 4 hours. Once the liquid starts boiling, you’ll need to regulate the heat. There shouldn’t be too many bubbles.
  • Finish the process by boiling maple syrup on the stove until it reaches the correct consistency.

When it reaches 219°F (104°C), the syrup is ready to be filtered and then bottled

Step Four — Filtering the Syrup

Filtering the syrup will not only remove impurities and nitre (sugar sand) but also improve the flavour. It’s vital to do so while it’s still hot. To achieve this, you can use a cheesecloth, food-grade filter, or coffee filter.

This is the last step in the maple syrup-making process. After this step, you should prepare the sterilized bottles for filling and storage. 

You can store the maple syrup at room temperature, as long as it’s unopened. Once you’ve opened it, you need to keep it refrigerated. Freezing it will enable it to last even longer.  

Fun fact: to make one gallon (four litres) of maple syrup, you need about 40 gallons (151 litres) of sap.

Making Maple Syrup — Recipes

Maple syrup generally tastes like caramel with hints of woody vanilla. If you want to substitute sugar, use ¾ cups of syrup for one cup of sugar. As an alternative to honey, use a one-to-one ratio.

There are many ways in which you can use maple syrup:

  • Use it as a topper for waffles or pancakes 
  • Add it to baked beans
  • Mix it with butter 
  • Add it to a fruit salad
  • Use it for salad dressing 

Now, let’s see how maple syrup ingredients can create delicious food.

Homemade Maple Butter

To make this creamy, mouthwatering butter, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of pure maple syrup  
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup of unsalted butter

Find a medium bowl and mix maple syrup with cinnamon and salt. Heat the mixture until it reaches 240°F (115°C). Remove it from the heat and start stirring the mixture until it melts. 

Now mix it with a hand mixer. Start low and increase the speed gradually. Mix the butter for roughly 8–10 minutes until it becomes creamy. Scoop the butter into a bowl and put it into a refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Maple-Bacon Sweet Potatoes

Cooking with maple syrup can also include savoury food. To make maple-bacon sweet potatoes, you’ll need to have a barbeque and:

  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • ¼ cup of sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup

Preheat the grill to medium heat. Poke holes in and wrap the sweet potatoes in foil. Put them on the barbecue and rotate them every 15 minutes for about 45 minutes. Now, grill the bacon until it becomes crispy (about 4 minutes). 

Unwrap the potatoes, cut them diagonally, and top them with 1 tbsp of sour cream and maple syrup. Chop the bacon, sprinkle it on top, and serve.

Maple Carrot Soup

To follow this tasty and healthy maple syrup recipe that contains only 93 calories, you’ll need:

  • 900 ml of chicken broth
  • 1 kg baby carrots
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves
  • 1 cup sour cream

First, take a large pot and mix the broth with the carrots, maple syrup, thyme, and Dijon. Cover the pot and after bringing it to a boil, reduce the heat to medium. Now, cook for about 30 minutes, and don’t forget to stir occasionally.

If the soup is thick, you can add one cup of water or chicken broth.

And lastly, add half of the sour cream to the soup (while hot) and then serve with a scoop of the remaining sour cream.

Maple Hot Chocolate

If you want to know how to make maple syrup hot chocolate, here’s what you need:

  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Mix cocoa, water, salt, and maple syrup in a saucepan and then add milk and wait until it simmers on medium heat. Add the vanilla last, let it cool down a bit, and enjoy!

Maple Syrup Diet Recipe

This maple syrup diet is all over the internet. It allegedly helped Beyonce lose 20 pounds (9 kg) in 10 days. While the diet is simple to follow, it’s pretty radical as you’re not supposed to eat solid food. 

Furthermore, before starting this diet, you’ll have to cut out processed foods, meat, dairy, added sugars, caffeine, and alcohol and focus on eating raw food.

The maple syrup diet ingredients include:

  • 3 quarts of water
  • 1 cup of lemon juice
  • 1 cup of pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne

Mix all the ingredients and drink 8–12 glasses a day. However, since this is a low-calorie diet, you might experience some side effects, like bad breath, nausea, headaches, irritability, muscle weakness, and cramps.

How to Make Homemade Maple Syrup

If you’re not a big fan of tapping the maple trees to collect their sweet nectar, you might be wondering if there is a way to skip those steps and make maple syrup at home within an hour or less.

Well, we have some good news for you. There are many recipes on how to make maple syrup at home. You don’t even have to be an experienced cook. Here’s how to make the syrup with only five ingredients:

  • Sugar (granulated and brown)
  • Honey or corn syrup
  • Maple extract
  • Vanilla extract
  • Hot water

Mix sugar, water, and honey in a saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and continue simmering (8–10 minutes). 

Let the mixture cool down for about five minutes, then add the vanilla and maple extract, which you can find in Walmart or other local stores.

Does homemade maple syrup need to be refrigerated? Yes, it does. Like we mentioned before, you can keep the maple syrup at room temperature only if the bottle is unopened. However, when you make the syrup at home, make sure to put it in the refrigerator to avoid spoiling it. 

Check for mould to see if the syrup is spoiled

Sugar-Free Maple Syrup Recipe 

You can also make a sugar free maple syrup using the following recipe:

  • ¾ cup brown Swerve
  • ⅓ cup confectioners Swerve
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 2 heaping tbsps. maple extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter extract
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Use a medium-sized pot to mix water with the brown and confectioners Swerve. Put the pot on medium heat and let the mixture boil (stir occasionally). 

You’ll need to turn the heat to medium-low once the water boils. Add salt, cinnamon, maple syrup extract, butter extract, and vanilla extract into the mixture and stir with a whisk.

Finish off the maple syrup preparation by adding xanthan gum. Turn your burner up and continue stirring with a whisk for a few more minutes. Once you’ve done this, let the mixture cool down for about 30 minutes before pouring it into a jar or a bottle

You’ll get about 25 two tablespoon-sized servings. One serving contains only 25 calories, 0.1 g carbs, and 0.1 g fibre.

Using Organic Maple Syrup Ingredients

Although this recipe can be a bit costly, it’s pretty simple to pull off.

To follow it, use to following ingredients:

  • 2 cups of fair trade white organic sugar
  • 1 cup of water  
  • 1 teaspoon of pure organic maple extract
  • ½ teaspoon of organic pure vanilla extract

You’ll need to mix water and sugar and let the mixture boil (stir continuously). Let it cool down, and add maple extract and vanilla extract

How to Make a Smoked Maple Syrup Cocktail

Besides using maple syrup as a topper for sweet or savory food, you can also use it with cocktail recipes. This recipe is a special treat for bourbon lovers. You’ll need:

  • 1 lemon rind 
  • ½ ounce of maple syrup
  • 2–3 drops of angostura bitters
  • 2–3 ounces of smoked maple bourbon whiskey

Light the lemon rind with a kitchen torch and put it in a lowball glass that you need to cover for a few minutes. Then remove it from the glass and add ice, angostura bitters, and smoked maple bourbon whiskey. Serve it stirred, not shaken.

How to Make Maple Syrup Substitute

Imagine this scenario. You woke up one Sunday morning with an irresistible craving for oatmeal pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup topping. There is just one problem — you’re out of maple syrup.

No worries, making a maple syrup substitute has never been easier. While you prepare the coffee, we’ll walk you through this alternative maple syrup recipe.

You’ll need:

  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of brown sugar 
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of maple or vanilla extract

Put the sugar in a pan and cook it over medium heat for a few minutes until it caramelizes. If you’re making maple syrup on the stove, make sure the heat is not too intense, or you will burn the sugar.

Add the caramelized sugar to a pot with the brown sugar and stir the mixture until it thickens. Remove the liquid from the heat and add butter and maple (or vanilla) extract. Whisk the mixture a few times and serve hot or cold. 

There are many other ways of making imitation maple syrup. For example, if you’re a vegetarian, use plant-based margarine instead of butter.

However, if you’re not into making the syrup yourself, simply head to your local store and purchase some of the best maple syrups.

Real vs. Artificial Maple Syrup

The main difference between the two is how they’re made. In fact, the ingredients will determine the syrup’s flavour, the number of calories, and nutritional benefits.

Real Maple Syrup Ingredients

The main ingredient is maple tree sap which is later cooked down. It contains sucrose, water, and small amounts of monosaccharides glucose and fructose. Plus, it’s all-natural, with no added artificial ingredients.

Even though the fake syrup has less of a “mapley” flavour than the pure variety, both contain a high amount of sugar (50 grams per ¼ cup).

Artificial Maple Syrup Ingredients

The main ingredients of the fake maple syrup are corn syrup, artificial ingredients and flavours (like caramel colour), and food additives (sodium benzoate, sulphur dioxide). 

That said, people prefer to use fake maple syrup for many reasons. Most importantly, it’s much cheaper than pure maple syrup, and the process of making it at home is way easier.

How Is Maple Syrup Made in Canada 

Canada is most famous for three things: ice hockey, moose, and maple syrup. As the world’s largest maple syrup producer, Canada manufactured about 14.29 million gallons (54 million litres) of it in 2020.

In terms of provinces, Quebec is the largest producer of maple syrup. For example, in 2020, Quebec produced 92.42% of maple syrup. In comparison, New Brunswick and Ontario made a mere 3.92% and 3.27%, respectively.

Making maple syrup and exporting it to other countries brought Canada $476 million in 2020.

Maple Syrup Grades

Maple syrup is categorized in grades. Keep in mind that they don’t indicate the syrup’s quality but are used to identify variations in flavour

The four maple syrup grades are:

  • Grade A golden and delicate
  • Grade A amber and rich
  • Grade A dark and robust
  • Grade A very dark and strong

Grade A Golden and Delicate

Due to the maple syrup manufacturing process, each grade has a different colour. For example, the golden syrup is much brighter compared to others. It also has the most delicate taste. Therefore it’s mainly used as a general-purpose sweetener.

Grade A Amber and Rich

This syrup has a darker colour and a smoother and rounded taste with distinct caramel notes. Moreover, it is the most popular form used as a topping for pancakes and waffles. You can also use it in baking recipes or with cocktails.

Grade A Dark and Robust

When producing maple syrup, you can end up with a rich and deep flavour, similar to brown sugar. Due to its robust taste, it’s often used as a glaze for meat.

Grade A Very Dark and Strong

Because this grade has the boldest flavour and the darkest colour, it’s often associated with molasses. This form of syrup is also sold to candy factories.

Final Takeaway

In this article, we walked you through making the syrup using both traditional and alternative techniques. We also added some tips and recipes you can try out at home using maple syrup as the main ingredient.

Although maple syrup offers some health benefits, it also contains a high amount of sugar. So, be mindful when using it since it can cause tooth decay and diabetes complications.

FAQ

How to get started making maple syrup?

First of all, you need to find a maple tree. The best trees are sugar maple, black maple, and red maple. Next, you have to drill a hole in the tree, put a tap and extract the sap using a bucket.

The next step in making the syrup includes boiling the sap to 219°F (104°C), after which you’ll have to filter the liquid to get rid of the sugar sand. The last step is storing the syrup. You can put it in bottles or jars. Keep in mind that once opened, it needs to be refrigerated.

How much sap to make maple syrup do you need?

Maple trees produce an average of 10–20 gallons (38–76 litres) of sap per tap. If you want to make one gallon (four litres) of maple syrup, you need to use 40 gallons (151 litres) of sap. This amount will also depend on the weather conditions, the size, age, and health of the tree.

Remember that you can only tap trees older than 40 years and no smaller than 25 centimetres in diameter. Collecting the sap usually takes four to six weeks.

How to make maple syrup thicker?

Now that you’ve learned how to make maple syrup, we’ll tell you how you can make its consistency a bit thicker.

Essentially, you can just reboil it after it has cooled down. But be careful, as cooking the syrup to 240°F (115°C) will make it hard as candy once it cools down. When you can dip a spoon into it and the syrup sticks, you know it’s ready.

Marina is a content writer and a filmmaker who spends most of her time in front of the computer, writing articles and blog posts on various subjects, learning fictional languages, or editing avant-garde movies. This penchant for learning new ways of dreaming and writing became her dream job. When she's not obsessing about work she tries to cook, read dystopian novels and go on adventures with her dog.

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