A Day In The Life: My Maple Syrup Hobby

A Day In The Life: My Maple Syrup Hobby


Some Might Call it an Obsession and They Might be Correct

Some of you might already know that right before the pandemic I had a small house built in Wakefield, Quebec. It’s a Passive House and is very eco-friendly both in it’s materials and design. It’s very low impact and we try to live gently and in harmony with our environment. Our little plot of land is about an acre and is a mostly wooded lot. On first glance you will find a mostly hemlock forest but upon closer inspection, the beautiful maples become seen. This is where the hobby comes in!

Last year a neighbour was selling up and moving away and posted online that he had maple syrup supplies making for sale. I stopped and had a look and was able to buy 25 metal buckets, lids and spiles and head home and plan! Could we really do this? Who knows but it seemed to be worth a go and if we bombed, I’m sure someone else could use these supplies.

Start it Off With a Bang!

We started in the fall before the leaves fell by walking the land and identifying the trees so that we knew which ones were maples. I need the leaves to tell the type of tree, unlike the pros and tree gurus out there! We tied brightly coloured tape on the trees and carried on without much more thought until March when winter started to wane.

We spoke with our next door neighbour who taps about 25 trees and he gave us some tips. He had actually been tapping some of our trees for a few years, so he passed stewardship back and showed us the good ones. He was super helpful! Then we got out our drill and decided to put in 15 taps and see what happened. I think the first hint that this might become a long term hobby was the excitement of drilling that first hole and the sap literally shooting out!

We quickly discovered that a few more supplies would be needed. Food grade buckets with lids to store collected sap, cement blocks to build a small structure to boil the sap on the fire, shallow pans for the boiling, sieves and a felt filter and of course, some jars for the finished product. We were lucky enough to have a friend who is both a Forester and a Maple Syrup Maker so she gave us lots of great tips along the way – we were blessed with great advise from our friends.

I Guess we are in for the Long Haul!

I could write a detailed book on the process but I just wanted to share a glimpse of what our first year of making maple syrup looked like, as we get ready to start making some again this year! We had 15 taps/buckets going and over the course of about 3 weeks we collected 600 litres of sap. Yes…..you read that right…600 litres from 15 trees! We did the majority of the boils outside over the wood fire and finished the syrup inside on the stove. Filtering and bottling was also done inside and is most definitely a two person job. We became slightly addicted to cooking on the fire too since it was burning a lot, but that’s a story for another blog post! Steak sandwiches with old cheddar and maple caramelized onions……I digress! Back to the syrup! Our 15 trees which produced 600 litres of sap gave us 15 litres of beautiful maple syrup in the end. We were so thrilled when we first tasted it and it actually was maple syrup!!!

Reach Out and Let’s Talk Syrup!

I spent the months after this not only enjoying the syrup but also driving around Ottawa showing and selling houses and pointing out the maples to clients! All you need is a few trees and you can have a little hobby and personal stock of syrup going! I would be really happy to share some tips and talk about this with anyone thinking of giving it a whirl. Not to sound sappy, but it’s really a heartwarming thing to try. Pun intended.

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