Q: I have about ten large red maple trees. I have read that red maples can be “sugared” to make syrup. Is this true? Are ten trees enough to experiment with?
A: In Vermont’s maple country, making syrup is time-consuming hard work. Maple sap in large quantities must be boiled in order to concentrate it to a sugary liquid. Ten trees are enough to experiment with but don’t count on covering many pancakes with their sweetness.
Your trees should be at least ten inches in diameter to accommodate a single maple tap. A tap is a hollow tube which is hammered firmly into a hole drilled in the tree trunk in mid- February. You can buy them cheaply on the Internet. Hang a small bucket from the tap hook and collect sap every day. When you’ve accumulated a gallon, boil it in a large pot until the temperature of the liquid is 219.5 degrees F. Filter the syrup through cloth and invite all of your neighbors over for a taste. A gallon of sap makes only a few ounces of syrup.
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