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treating sycamore syrup

 
gardener
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So we've tapped our sycamores and made syrup.  My question is, does it need to be heat treated, either waterbath or pressure?
 
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I don't know if sycamore syrup is different from maple syrup, but maple syrup can last for months refrigerated, sometimes years. Mold won't grow in it because of the high sugar concentration, but it can grow on top if exposed to air. I have found (and read elsewhere) that it can just be skimmed and used without problems if it develops a bit of mold.

A boiling water bath and pre-sterilized jars would make mold much less likely until opening, if you don't want to store it in the fridge. I'm not sure I would want to put the syrup in a pressure canner, as I don't know how much it might boil and foam while out of sight. I wouldn't want to risk clogging the vent.
 
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Glenn is right.  As long as the sugar content is high enough, you won't have any trouble with mold or bacteria.  Just keep it airtight in a cool dark place and it will be just fine.  If mold appears on the surface of the syrup, just skim it off.  If you feel weird about using it if it's molded a little, just reboil it and it should be good to go.  I buy maple syrup from a place down the road from me by the gallon.  One gallon will last me a couple of years, but it's the most economic way of buying it.  I sometimes divide it up into multiple jars and store it in the cabinet.

One thing about mold:  White mold is usually fine as long as it's not super fuzzy looking. Green is not great, but likely harmless.  Black mold is no good.  If my syrup had black mold, I'd probably not use it, just to be on the safe side.

Do you have a way of measuring the sugar content of your syrup?
 
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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No Craig. We will only be making tiny amounts so we have no proper kit at all. If we can collect a respectable amount maybe i will invest in some decent gear. Having said that the tapping kits were beautifully made and work superbly. (Touch-Wood in the UK)
 
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Amanda, I'm curious about your syrup. With maples, usually the sap is watery and needs boiling down to reduce it to syrup. Did you boil down your sycamore sap to make syrup?

Edited to add:  I moved this out of the crowdfunding forum, and put it in the trees, food preservation, and woodland forums instead. If it should be in a different forum, just let me know.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Yes. It took ages cos its more watery than maple. Im not sure I got it syrupy enough cos I  was scared of burning it as our stove doesnt go low enough for the last stages.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Ah! I do understand more now! I can see why you're asking in case it might not be cooked down enough. I'm glad those who know more than me gave you some answers. Maybe others will chime in, as well.

If you don't mind me asking another inexperienced question, how does the taste of sycamore syrup compare to maple syrup?
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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To be honest it is several years since I had maple and without the two side by side I couldn't really tell. It is delicious though.
 
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Never made sycamore syrup, but have made birch syrup.  The process is the same.  I boil my sap down outside in order to not have all that water vapor in my house.  When I get the syrup almost to the finished stage (the point where  it would be easy to scorch) I bring it into the house and finish off on the stove top.  I filter it through multiple layers of cheesecloth or an old clean white teeshirt directly into my jars while it is still very hot.  I use mason jars and immediately put on the lids.  As the syrup cools the jars seal.  I've kept it on the shelf for several years with no ill affects.

I know with maple syrup it takes approximately 40 gallons of sap for a gallon of syrup and with birch it is approx 100 gallons of sap per gallon of syrup depending on the sugar content of the sap.  How much sycamore sap does it take to make a gallon of syrup?

ETA: I see where yours was "watery".  I would guess it wasn't cooked down quite enough.  A water bath may be appropriate in this instance.  Do some research on maple syrup production and how to tell when your sap is at the proper stage.  Most maple syrup produces use a hydrometer.  You can also use temperature of the syrup to tell when you are close as the boiling point rises to close to 220* if I remember correctly and there is also the spoon method where you want it to sheet off the spoon.  
 
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You can also buy a brix meter to tell you the sugar content of the syrup.  You need one with a scale to allow you to measure 67% and it's nice to get one that automatically adjusts for temp, but it doesn't take long for a drop to cool down, so it's not critical.

I actually use a meter that only scales to 35%, so I just dilute 1:1 with water and aim for a 33-34% reading.  I originally got it for brewing, where the sugar content of the wort is much lower than syrup.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Many thanks guys!
 
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I'd also add that if you aren't sure the syrup was boiled all the way to the official "syrup" concentration, I'd keep it in the refrigerator for sure.  

I test my maple syrup, filter it, and put into hot jars with the syrup at 180F.  No water bath or other process needed.  I think that's due to the density of the syrup holding heat longer and killing the bad guys.  Then it can keep on the shelf for a long time.  
 
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Walt Chase wrote:You can also use temperature of the syrup to tell when you are close as the boiling point rises to close to 220* if I remember correctly and there is also the spoon method where you want it to sheet off the spoon.  



Yes, for maple syrup we shoot for 7F higher than the boiling point of water at your altitude.  So down here at sea level it's 219F.  That will tell you your sugar content is high enough to avoid spoilage.
 
Greg Martin
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I was just reading that adding sycamore syrup to maple syrup will give it a touch of butterscotch flavor....yum!
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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Greg Martin wrote:

Walt Chase wrote:You can also use temperature of the syrup to tell when you are close as the boiling point rises to close to 220* if I remember correctly and there is also the spoon method where you want it to sheet off the spoon.  



Yes, for maple syrup we shoot for 7F higher than the boiling point of water at your altitude.  So down here at sea level it's 219F.  That will tell you your sugar content is high enough to avoid spoilage.


If you want to get even more technical, from what I've read, you need to measure the temperature of your sap when it first boils and then add 7 degrees.  Atmospheric pressure changes day to day will move the boiling point around a little bit.  
 
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