Monday, March 28, 2011

Our Maple Adventure

Tapped Trees

This past Saturday our Primary kids were invited to go learn how to make maple syrup--from beginning to end--at the home of some of the members in our branch (our church congregation) who live out in the boonies on a farm.  I used to love reading about maple syrup making in the Laura Ingalls books, so this was really fun for me to experience.

When we first got there, we learned about boiling the sap down into syrup for a few minutes before we started at the actual beginning.  Did you know it takes 40 gallons of tree sap to get just one gallon of syrup!  No wonder the real stuff can be so expensive!

Bria, as the oldest Primary child in attendance (not that there's many older than her)(I think just one, and it's only by a few months), got to be the keeper of the sap bucket.  Bria?  Bria?  Where did you go?  Don't you know that smoke follows beauty?
Smoke Follows Beauty
Oh, there she is!  Off to the woods to see about tapping some trees...
Bucket GirlInto the Woods
The trees are tapped in early spring, and there's usually only a small window of 3-4 weeks before the trees start devoting all of their energy to producing leaves, so you have to get on it.  Our friends had already tapped lots of trees on their property a few weeks ago.
Tapped TreesMaplesMaple Forest
But they saved one for us to see how it's done.
First you drill a hole.  You can use an auger like they did, or you could use a drill with a large bit.
When you see sap coming, you've gone deep enough.
The Tap
Then you can put the tap into the tree.  Chloe got to help with the hammering.
Hammer HolderSap
See the sap?  It tastes pretty good, but it's mostly water at this point...that's why you have to boil it for so long later.
Once the tap is on, you have to stick a jug of some sort there to collect the sap.
Found One!
Now it's time to collect the sap so we can make some syrup!  Look! Sophia found a jug that's pretty full.
Gathering Sap
Dumping the sap from the smaller jug into the big bucket.
Look at my gorgeous baby!  Did I tell you I registered her for Kindergarten last week?  I know.  What is the world coming to?
Gathering Sap
More sap dumping.  This time Oliver found a jug-ful.  He is Sophia's betrothed.  ;)
Jared and Lucy
Our friend Jared and his daughter Lucy hunting for more jugs ready to be emptied into the bucket.
My Pioneer Girls
It's almost like they are Mary, Laura and Carrie Ingalls, out gathering sap!  Those are my beautiful this picture!
Daddy and Daughter
And there's my handsome Charles, er...I mean, Joel.  (Who is amazingly enough still wearing a BYU hat, despite the disappointing loss to Florida a few days earlier.)

And now we are ready to put the sap into the boiler.  You have to pour it into the strainer first, where it strains the ice out.  This cuts down on boiling time since the sap itself doesn't freeze, only the water in it.

Making Syrup
The sap then goes through a small hole, into the boiler.  If you were to dump the sap straight into the already boiling water/sap, it would lower the temperature too drastically and you'd have to reach a boiling point again.  So draining it in slowly like this keeps things running smoothly.
And then, you wait.  We waited by eating pancakes with maple syrup on top, of course!  We got to bring a jar home and we can't wait to try it on our own pancakes and waffles.

We have a couple maple trees in our yard, and we're seriously considering trying to tap them.  We'll see...we'd probably only get a pint of syrup for all that work, but wouldn't it be so fun?  I guess we'd better get on it...our window is probably nearly over....
Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. This is so cool! I never knew the process for getting maple syrup. I bet it takes so much better freshly made. Thanks for sharing such a neat activity with us.

  2. My MOm did this when she lived in Vermont for a few years, and honestly it was the BEST syrup ever! What a fun experience for the kids

  3. We got to go to Palmyra a few years ago with all the girls and go to a farm where they made maple syrup the old fashioned way. It was so fun and we learned so much. I think this looks like an amazing day!!

  4. What a great adventure! Really no wonder the stuff costs so much. I love all of the photos you took to tell the story. Fun!

  5. That is so cool. I always meant to see syrup being made while we lived in New England, but sadly never did make it.

  6. That is quite the process. Gives me a better understanding why pure maple syrup costs 3x more than Aunt Jemima.
    Gorgeous pictures!!!

  7. These pictures are so great, especially the ones with the trees. What an awesome Primary activity! :)

  8. I love this post! Beautiful pictures as always. I loved learning about how to make syrup. It looks like it was a fun activity.

    (I like your new header)

  9. What a cool thing to learn! I guess hard work really IS sweet. :)

    I loved that part in the Little House in the Big Woods... one of my favorite parts of a book ever.

  10. I love your pictures of this one! One of the first field trips one of my kids went on when we first moved to New England over 5 years ago, was to a maple farm. I remember being so amazed by that.

  11. What a fun activity! Reminds me of Little House in the Big Woods when they tap their maple trees:)

  12. First----loved this post!! Second---- loved all of the beautiful pictures!! Third----*jealous* that you got your own bottle of real maple syrup. Yum!! Fourth---- I will be registering my baby for Kindergarten on Friday. Why do they have to grow up so fast?!

  13. I never knew! I loved learning from your post so thanks for sharing. Truly amazing! What a fun activity.

  14. How fun! Thanks for sharing. Love it. And having just finished Catching Fire it was interesting to see the tap...

  15. You might actually get more than a pint. Some people we know tapped a few trees in their yard (which is small) and got 4 gallons of's *amazing* how much sap you can get from one tree (10-20 gallons).
    A reader in WI

  16. This looks so fun! My kids would love doing this. Great pictures too!

  17. This is so fabulous! The maple syrup descriptions were possibly my very favorite parts of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, but I've never seen photos of the process before, and have certainly never tried it.

    I did try making maple candy from scratch once, was a dismal failure. Ah, well.

  18. Oh my old next door neighbor used to make the BEST maple syrup! Even after I moved to Texas my parents would mail me some.

  19. SO fun!! I've always wanted to do that!

  20. I love your pictures !! You can visit my blog here