Making Maple (Actually Box Elder) Syrup

Another hobby Mike has been dabbling with is tapping some trees for syrup. Traditionally, people tap maple trees for their sap to make into syrup, but we don’t actually have any maple trees on our property. However, Mike being the clever and knowledgable man that he is determined that box elder trees can be tapped for syrup as well. And boy do we have box elder trees dotted all over our land. Apparently, box elder trees are in the maple family, but they aren’t usually what maple syrup makers will use to process the delicious nectar.

We have some friends who were highly interested in the process as well, so they came and helped set up the tapping buckets. The tapping is quite easy with the right equipment. You drill a hold a couple of inches deep, push the spile into the hole, and then run the hose that’s connected to the spile into a bucket below. You let it run for a few days or until the bucket is full. There’s only a short window of time in the spring when the sap is edible. It’ll start to turn bitter after a couple of weeks.

After enough sap is collected the boiling process begins. It’s boiled down until the consistency of syrup is reached. It’s amazing that it goes from clear liquid to the this tawny brown. It’s been said that it takes about 40 gallons of tree sap to get 1 gallon of syrup.

As you can see we didn’t have nearly that amount since this was the resulting amount.

One small note, be careful to watch your pot because you don’t want to end up with the below catastrophe. I’m not a big fan of maple syrup (yes, I grew up on the dyed corn syrup crap), but it is a fun process to watch and see such results.

Hi, I'm Jen. I'm a mom to three girls and living the high life up here on 17 acres in South Dakota since 2011. I'm what you'd call a reluctant farm wife but don't regret it one bit. I will be chronicling keeping up with my serial hobbyist husband and the other stuff that happens in my life.


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  1. Mike Hawley wrote:

    It tastes good though

    Posted 4.15.22 Reply