Collecting sap from the maple trees in my yard is one of my favorite things to do–it gives me something to look forward to and occupy my time during those last weeks of winter. When the sap runs up the maple tree, it wakes the buds up out of the winter doldrums and it can wake you up as well.
There is only one thing in this world that tastes better than homemade maple syrup–and that is homemade maple candy.
Here is how to make maple candy from maple sap or maple syrup.
- 1-2 gallons of maple sap or as much maple syrup as you plan to convert
- Stainless steel stockpot
- Smaller finishing pot
- Leaf-shaped candy molds
Step 1: Collect maple sap from your trees in late winter
To make a small batch of maple candy, you’re going to want 1-2 gallons of maple sap. Maple sap runs from the roots up through the trunk to the branches on late Winter or early Spring days when the temperature drops several degrees below freezing at night and rises several degrees above freezing during the day.
Step 2: Boil your sap to concentrate the sugars
The maple tree sap naturally has a small amount of sugar in it. You can turn that sap into delicious maple candy by concentrating the sap by boiling it down. As the sap boils, water, in the form of steam, evaporates and leaves the remaining boiling liquid sweeter during the process.
You actually need to boil off about 39/40ths of the water to make maple syrup. Things get a little more complicated as the liquid concentrates, so once you have the liquid level low enough to fit into a smaller pot, you should transfer to that smaller pot so you can manage better control.
For example, when I start boiling gallons of sap, I start with this stainless steel stockpot.
But then I finish things up in this smaller pot.
The sap transforms into syrup right around the stage where nearly all the water has evaporated and the temperature of liquor is about 219F-220F, although I find that it’s still a bit runny for my liking at this stage. You can continue to cook it a few more degrees if you prefer, although you increase the risk that the sugars in your syrup may crystallize in the container before you finish it, I find it’s worth the risk to get a more viscous syrup.
If you want to set some syrup aside for later, you can pour some off now and save it in a mason jar.
To make maple candy from this maple sap (now turned into syrup) you continue to boil until the temperature reaches 235F.
A couple of warnings for you here: watch out, the sticky syrup will “pop” while bubbling and may scald your hands, arms and make a mess of the stove. You will also want to watch the pot very closely because the syrup is very likely to boil over. As the syrup gets this hot, there’s something amazing that happens where it forms some crazy foamy bubbles, like this:
Once you hit 235F and keep things from boiling over, you are ready for the next step.
Step 3: Let the syrup/candy cool
Set the homemade maple sap that you had boiled to 235F aside to cool for about 8-11 minutes.
Step 4: Stir
After cooling for 8-11 minutes, you want to stir the sticky substance rapidly, heavily, using a heavy-duty spoon or ladle for about 4-5 minutes, until the glossy liquid transforms into a duller-colored, creamy and thick candy.
Step 5: Pour the candy into silicone candy molds like these:
Or simply dribble the candy out on parchment paper to cool.
By the way, the parchment paper technique is perfect for cooling that little bit of extra candy you might have after you fill your molds.
Step 6: Continue cooling
Wait for the candies to cool to room temperature then pop them out of the molds.
After they cool, the color becomes even creamier:
Step 7: Clean up any unsightly edges, if you want. Feel free to sample along the way.
Step 8: Enjoy them right away or wrap them up in a cute box to give as a gift.
Want to make maple candy like this?
You can order your own leaf-shaped candy molds (surprisingly affordable) here: