Maple Sap Boiling Instructions


  1. If you’re not sure if there’s sap waiting to be boiled, you might want to check first with Nick (558-7552), especially if you live a distance away.
  2. When you arrive to “babysit” the boiling sap, you should first let Nick (or one of the professors — note: Drs. Kossenjans, Hilvano, do Amaral, Fankhauser, and Clark’s offices are all “right around the corner” from the lab area; the first ones you’ll see as you enter the faculty office area — and my office is just around the next corner from theirs) know you are there. You will need one of them to let you into the lab kitchen area. A sign in/out list will be posted so you can record the times when you arrive and leave.
  3. New Garbage Can
  4. If you are the first person that day to watch the sap, you may need to help bring it upstairs. If the large, gray, “garbage” can is not there in the lab kitchen, you will (perhaps with help from Nick or a faculty member?) need to go down to the other end of the hall, down that stairs, and out the door, then turn right and go around the corner to where the sap-collecting supplies are kept. If the big “garbage” can is not in the lab, it should, hopefully, be there. It is on wheels, but getting it to go through the mud can be a challenge, especially if it is very full — get help if needed. If it is down there, you will need to take it into the elevator and upstairs to the lab kitchen. Also, especially on a Monday (with collected sap from Fri, Sat, and Sun afternoons), you should check the carboy on the backpack to make sure sap was not left in there.
  5. Strainer Lined with Cheesecloth Dipping Sap out of Garbage Can
  6. If not there already, place the large, flat, white pan on the stove. In that pan, set a strainer (one of the ones with “feet” so it stands up on its own) lined with cheesecloth.
  7. Pouring Sap through Strainer
  8. Move the “garbage” can close to the stove so sap doesn’t drip on the floor. Use any convenient utensil (pitcher, small or medium pot, bucket — check with Nick) to transfer sap to the pan, pouring it through the cheesecloth-lined strainer to catch/remove any twigs, etc.
  9. Pouring Sap through Brewing Funnel
  10. Optionally, one of the brewing funnels with a fine-mesh screen in the bottom could also be used to filter the sap.
  11. Sap Boiling
  12. Turn on the stove. If the stove does not light, ask Nick if the “big green button” needs to be pushed. To get the water to evaporate out of the sap in the shortest time possible, you will need to turn all the burner on their highest setting (the right-front burner may need to be turned down a bit if sap starts boiling out of the pan from that corner.).
  13. Boiling Sap
  14. Watch the pot — OK, you don’t have to stand there and physically stare at it the whole time. You can sit down and do homework. Eating in the kitchen area is OK. But, don’t forget to periodically check the pan and see how it’s doing.
  15. Pouring in Sap
  16. As the water gradually evaporates, if there is still more sap in the “garbage” can, that may periodically be added to the pan (poured through the cheesecloth-lined strainer) to top it off.
  17. When all of the sap has been emptied out of the “garbage” can, the can can be taken out into the greenhouse and rinsed out with the hose, then turned over to drain for a few minutes. After the can is reasonably dried out, its lid can be securely placed back on it. Then whole thing can be wheeled down to the elevator, taken downstairs, and taken back outside and around the corner to the right, then placed with the rest of the sap equipment (backpack, etc.) that is down there.
  18. If/When the boiling sap in the pan is getting low (and that’s all the sap for that day, so there’s no more to be added) and perhaps bubbly, turn it off and let Nick or a faculty member know. Let it cool off. Once the sap has cooled enough to be safely handled, Nick or a faculty member (perhaps with your help?) will pour it into a jug. (Later, a faculty member will boil the collected syrup to completion, hopefully, thereby avoiding setting off the fire alarm.) IF IN DOUBT, TURN IT OFF!!!
  19. If your time is up and you’re ready to leave, TURN OFF THE STOVE FIRST!!! (unless another student has just arrived and will be immediately taking over).
  20. Before you leave, record the time on the sign in/out list, let Nick or a faculty person know you’re leaving, and DOUBLE-CHECK THAT THE STOVE IS TURNED OFF!!! — which is especially important if no one else has arrived to take over, and/or if you are the last person watching the sap on that day.

Copyright © 2015 by J. Stein Carter. All rights reserved.
Chickadee photograph Copyright © by David B. Fankhauser
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