Sweet Traditions: Exploring the Art of Maple Syrup Tapping in Minnesota

March 22, 2024

It’s that time of year again.  In a typical winter here in Minnesota, we’d be seeing the weather slowly get into the 40’s during the day and mid 20’s in the evening.  For many Minnesotans, this means it’s maple syrup season.  Any keen-eyed driver going through an area with many trees will see the blue bags hanging from the trees or the blue vacuum tube lines crisscrossing through the forest, trying to capture what will become that Liquid Gold. While this spring hasn’t been very typical, it’s still given maple tappers a long stretch of time to be able to capture the sap that will become this season’s maple syrup.

The temperature swing from the 40’s during the day to the 20’s at night is the key for collecting maple sap.  These swings cause the tree to move the sap between the roots and the upper branches of the tree.  The tap that is drilled into the tree is meant to catch it as it moves!

Anyone can start maple syruping! You can do it with as little as one maple tree with a tap and a bucket, a stove and pot, and a candy thermometer.  You can always upgrade and expand as the hobby consumes you!  Once you’ve tried those first pancakes with your own maple syrup, the store-bought stuff will never be the same! Spend some time on online Maple Syruping blogs and you may soon have a Reverse Osmosis (RO) machine, vacuum filters, flat pans, diatomaceous earth, refractometers, hydrometers, and countless other additional gadgets you just “have” to buy.

Converting the watery sap into sticky, golden syrup involves a long, relaxing time of boiling off the extra water.  Maple sap typically contains around 1.5% sugar.  This gives about 1 gallon of syrup for every 40 gallons of sap collected.  Boiling off 39 gallons of water gives one a great opportunity to pull up a chair, grab their favorite adult beverage, and spend time enjoying the warming weather with family and friends.  Keep watching until it reaches 7 degrees Fahrenheit above your local boiling point of water. And just like that you have syrup! Congrats! You now are the favorite member of the family with your liquid gold.

Maple syruping fits perfectly into the lull in the Minnesota outdoors season – too late for snowmobiling but too early for the lake.  Whether you get syrup, or accidentally overboil and end up with a gooey failed mess, what matters is the time spent outdoors with family and friends.



Written by: Eric Scharff

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