We were ambitious this year and tapped double the maple trees we tapped last year. Now we find ourselves with a year’s supply of syrup already and limited energy remaining to keep up the effort of evaporating the many remaining gallons of sap. To prevent the sap from just going to waste, we’ve come up with and tried out several ideas to use sap and make the most of our flowing bounty.
Below are our 7 favorite ways to use maple sap, aside from just boiling it into syrup.
Note: If you want to try any of the below but don’t have any sap, you can make your own! Here’s how to make maple sap from water and syrup at home: for every cup of sap desired, add 2 teaspoons of pure maple syrup to 1 cup (8 ounces) of water.
1. Make a maple sap seltzer
There are two ways to carbonate your sap. One way is to use a soda carbonating machine which requires spending some bucks on the machine and carbonation tanks. The other method is to ferment the sap in a bottle, where the sugar content is just enough to give the sap a nice fizz when converted by yeast. To ferment your own maple sap seltzer, just get a clean and sanitized plastic soda/seltzer/etc. bottle with a cap (basically any plastic bottle that you can firmly close that formerly held a carbonated drink should work), fill with sap, and add a pinch or so of cheap dry champagne yeast . Set in a warm location (~70 degrees F is good) and wait until the bottle is firm when you squeeze it, which could take a day or up to a week, depending on temperature, amount your pinch of yeast holds, sugar content of the sap, etc. Put in the fridge when the bottle is firm and drink after 24 hours (the wait is to let it chill and for the yeast to settle to the bottom of the bottle. An impressive component to mixed drinks the next time you entertain or delicious in its own right.
2. Use Maple Sap to Brew Beer or Mead
If you’re a homebrewer, you know you’re supposed to use pure, filtered, very clean water for beer. So why not use this unique and earthy source for water, with added maple aroma and fermentable sugar to boot? Just use filtered sap as you would use water, and expect a slight boost in alcohol content (not too much don’t worry). If you need a new recipe, this Chinook Trail Amber Ale recipe of mine thrives with sap in place of water.
3. Use Maple Sap to Bake bread
We found that the sap behaves differently than water in some ways, so start slow and only add 3/4 of the recipe’s water (but using sap instead) to start. Then keep adding sap to reach the desired dough consistency, then you can continue with letting it rise and bake it as normal. We found that the crumb is tight, making for excellent sandwiches, and the texture is velvety smooth and quite unique.
4. Brew coffee or tea with maple sap
We used pure maple sap instead of water for today’s coffee, sublime! Equivalent sweetness to around 1.5 teaspoons/packets of sugar per 12oz of coffee. A photo posted by Ferrin Brook Farm (@ferrin_brook_farm) on Apr 7, 2015 at 8:33am PDT
Skip adding ultra processed cane sugar by brewing tea or coffee with maple sap and get truly raw sweetness!
5. Drink Maple sap as an energy drink
Maple sap has been enjoyed in its own right for centuries, dating back to Native Americans who drank it in the springtime as a sort of revitalizing health tonic. There may be many benefits to drinking maple sap (sometimes called “maple water” commercially), as a result of its high levels of manganese, natural electrolytes, and a slew of other nutrients. Not to mention that it’s an unaltered source of excellent hydration. To me it just tastes good and makes me feel great, and brings a deeper connection to the hard work of firewood, where the trees are warming and hydrating me at once.
6. make a maple wine
We have only just started this process and can’t say how the result tastes, but when we finally get around to bottling, aging, and finally tasting it a year from now, I’ll let you know! The idea is simple enough: you want to reduce the sap by boiling it to concentrate the sugar content of the liquid so it is comparable to that of a mead or ale or whatever you are going for. Reducing typical sap to 1/9th its volume will get you to a concentration good for maple wine (SG of around 1.120 for fellow fermentation nerds). You could also try an “ale strength” maple wine, which is half as potent (1.060 SG), by boiling 4.5 gallons down to 1. I’m trying a gallon or so of both and will let you know next maple season!
To make the maple wine, these instructions have it covered, just don’t pay attention to the parts about adding honey and use your reduced sap liquid: How to Make Mead from the American Homebrewers Association.
7. Cook your oatmeal in maple sap
If you replace the water used to make oatmeal with maple sap, you won’t need any sweetener for a delicious and unique breakfast! We’re actually freezing a good amount of sap so we can do this for the next few months!