I am what you would call an experiential learner…I learn best by DOING. Just jump right in and give it a whirl, right?   Questions get answered first-hand by absorbing myself in the process. It leads to the confidence to do MORE and learn MORE.

My recent weekend whirl was our first batch of homemade maple syrup.

Our refrigerator was FILLED with the crystal clear sap we’d been collecting over the week and I needed to get some shelf space back, so it was time to get cooking.  

I’d read, watched and listened to a variety of sources on the matter, and came to the conclusion for my first attempt (and the smaller quantity I was dealing with) to simply cook it down over the stove in the house and see what happens.  I started with a large pot that had about 3 gallons or so in it…turned up the heat and let it boil down.  It took a few hours and I ended up with about a cup of filtered syrup.

I knew going into it that “it was going to take a lot to get a little”, but I had to experience it to really get the ‘jist’ of the process.  It went from crystal clear to this beautiful light shade of amber and was absolutely DELICIOUS.  It was also just in time for our family’s lazy, dazy Saturday morning breakfast.

We poured it over french toast and enjoyed the the freshest maple syrup we’ve ever had.

From a tree in our own backyard.

Doesn’t get ANY better than that.

Things I learned….

I let my first batch cook a tad too long, and it was a bit more like eating chewy caramel after it cooled and set up, so I trimmed off some time on the next batch and watched the consistency a bit closer.

First batch was too thick.

Second batch, (almost) too thin.

Third batch. Just right.

It’s certainly not a complicated exercise, it just takes a bit of time to cook down and you have to keep an eye on things.

Have about a pint of ‘just right’ maple syrup thus far and probably have yet another couple weeks to gather sap.

Cheers to a very rewarding (and DELICIOUS) learning process, to say the least.  It’s so worth the effort.


  1. Jamie says:

    Three tries to get it ‘just right’ sounds like a ‘Goldilocks Process’! No maple trees to tap in our area of Alaska, but locals have found our birch trees can be tapped in much the same way. As with maple sap, it’s a boil down process that MUST be watched. Results: A very tasty syrup for homemade pancakes – or even on ice cream!
    I want to take this opportunity to say I watched with interest and admiration the episodes of your remodel/makeover. I LOVE the results! It shows what can be done when items headed ‘out’ are re-purposed instead. Hubby watched with interest, too, so maybe I can convince him we can make a few changes around our homestead.
    Thanks for all the ideas, Michele. Yours is in my top 5 of favorite shows!

  2. Erika says:

    how fun! I love the idea of having my own maple tree, but…that would take me away from living in coastal CA. the best I can do is someday have bees for my own honey.
    love your show Michele.

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