Maple Syrup in US Lower Midwest

ClareBroommaker's picture

Anyone in the lower midwest make maple syrup? Do you have any trouble timing the tapping?

Do you do any of the cook-down indoors? If I were to do it, it would be only a _very_ small amount, and I was thinking I would do it indoors where it could contribute to the heat in the house and also humidify the house.

If you've done it but given it up, I'd like to hear why.

Blueberry's picture

Not maple but sugar cane the boil down is about the same 8-10gal of cane juice to 1 gal of syrup. that is a lot of humidity. Have done small batches outside over a wood fire.

ClareBroommaker's picture

I'd anticipate doing it very slowly. Very low heat, and maybe take several days to finish only a small amount. Heat enough to raise the humidity, then turn it off. Heat it again later, or the next day, and so on.

Do you think the sap would spoil between heatings if I left it unrefrigerated?

My brother made syrup inside, but he was considerably further north and was running a woodstove all the time anyway. He did not make a whole lot either.

Isn't sugar cane done in the summer?

Blueberry's picture

Making of cane syrup in North Florida is done from the middle of November to the middle of December. The cane has to be harvested before a frost max store time is 2 weeks depending on weather. The cane used for syrup is called ribbon cane. Cane for making sugar is different in the kinds of sugars in the juice. One can make sugar from ribbon cane my seeding the cane juice after it has cooked down and started to cool. Claire I do not know if your sap would spoil or not. If it was cane juice it would start on its way to being a adult beverage.

The only native maple tree we have in this area is the boxelder. I have gathered sap in the spring and boiled it down to make syrup. The taste is similar to sugar maple syrup, but is obviously different. I haven't done it for the past few years because our spring climate has been changing so much that it is difficult to get the timing of the sap run right. I also need to get a setup made so that I can boil down the sap outside over a wood fire. When I have boiled it down inside on the stove, everything in the kitchen that is exposed gets a thin film of sticky syrup on it.

Yes, maple sap will sour or even mold if left too long unrefrigerated. Overnight is OK, even multiple successive nights if heated to boiling in between each day. We made syrup outside when I was a child in Michigan. If I remember right, the timing of the tapping was related to not only the obvious freeze-thaw cycle, but something about the size of a particular leaf being the same as a squirrel's ear. I know that's not too helpful, but the idea that the sap's cycling will be signaled by observable changes in other species rather than by calendar date or just thermometer readings might be useful. I know there is a whole body of study relating seasonal changes of one species to another- I wish I could remember what the science is called!- but obviously the particular changes you'd be looking for would be quite specific to your location. I hope you can find some local old-timers to ask!

I read an article, I think in Taproot magazine?, about someone who made small amounts of syrup inside and, as I recall, regretted it. I can't remember the specifics, but since it is traditionally made outside, I assume there is good reason for that, since people in the past would have been just as interested in using waste heat and humidity inside the house if it were practical. Just a thought. Good luck!

ClareBroommaker's picture

Ah, well, another year goes by without my trying to make maple syrup. I have no trees on my very small property and would have had to ask someone with trees if I could tap theirs.