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Video: Maple syruping season in full swing: Tips from Farmer Doug

Mar 20, 2021 03:28AM ● By Editor

Watch the WDIO-TV Report here

Photo: WDIO-TV

By Alejandra Palacios of WDIO-TV - March 19, 2021 

If you have access to any maple trees or have ever wanted to experiment with making maple syrup, local farmer Doug Hoffbauer has some great tips as an expert with over 35 years of experience and says right now is the prime time to try it.

March is a 'sweet' time to maple syrup and Hoffbauer said the weather has been perfect to start tapping away at the maple trees.

"The major part of the syrup operation is called the evaporator and that's what boils the sap down into syrup. It often takes close to 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup. When the sap comes out of the trees, it's two in a half to three percent of sugar. It has been good this year. It's 66 percent of sugar as it makes syrup," said Hoffbauer.

Weather and patience is key in the maple syruping process. For a pro like Hoffbauer, who has been doing this as a hobby for years and years, it's second nature.

"You start tapping the trees when the crows are making nests, in other words the crows are flying around with stuff in their mouth to make a nest and it's done when the frogs are croaking in the ponds and that means the frost is out of the ground and the trees are starting to sprout," said Hoffbauer.

Hoffbauer said he produces 100 plus gallons of Finnish syrup a year.

Now for tools to start the tap, you'll need a drill, a hammer, a spile or tapping spout, a candy thermometer, a large pan for boiling, and a container or bag to collect the sap.

"You want to go in an inch and a half, you don't want to go any deeper than that on the tree. You want to tilt the drill up a little bit and you drill the tree, put the tap in, hang your bag and come back tomorrow," said Hoffbauer.

Hoffbauer said make sure you don't overtap a tree since that damages it.

"Resist the temptation to put too many taps in a tree. You're going to get the same sap with two taps as you would with three or four. Yard trees yield unbelievable amounts of sap because they're well fertilized. Usually people fertilize their lawn and it goes right down into the tree roots and so urban maple sap is usually high in sugar and usually very high yielding," said Hoffbauer.

Hoffbauer also said to make sure you collect the sap the following day so it doesn't spoil and start boiling away until it reaches 219 degrees to turn it into syrup.

"It should be bottled at 190 degrees and you're going to have to filter it before you bottle it. Run it through a cheesecloth," said Hoffbauer.

Farmer Doug's website and the Minnesota DNR have step by step instructions on this process. Farmer Doug is selling syrup this weekend. You can check their Facebook page for hours.

To see the original story and read related reporting, follow this link to the WDIO-TV website.

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