Finishing maple syrup on the stovetop is the very last step in the maple syrup process! Learn how to do it here!

Finishing maple syrup is the final thing that needs to be done to complete the maple sugaring process. Maple syrup season is so fun and so rewarding! I love to teach my children where food comes from, and this a great way to do that. No matter how much syrup you make – whether you make a ton, or just a single gallon of syrup, I’ll walk you through the whole process.

Over the last few posts, I’ve covered all the basics of maple sugaring – from collecting gallons of sap from maple trees, to building a maple syrup evaporator, to turning that maple sap into syrup. Well…almost! We are to the last step in the process which is finishing maple syrup on the stovetop!

Quick overview

Tapping maple trees

In this post, I gave all the steps for tapping your maple trees to provide the sap you’ll need to make gallons of syrup. You can get a lot of sap from just one tree! I gave all the links on where to purchase the inexpensive equipment needed to do this late winter or early spring project.

It explained where to find collection buckets, what to use to clean containers, what size drill bit to use to make the tap hole, what time of year to tap your sugar maples, how much sap you can expect to get from a tree, whether to use metal taps or plastic, how much sap you’ll need to make a gallon of syrup, and how to store all that cold sap. It’s pretty comprehensive!

Building an evaporator

In order to make your own maple syrup, you have to find a way to put the sap through a boiling process to evaporate off the water and leave you with the sweet syrup. Once you’ve filled up all your sap buckets and stored them in a cool place, you need a way to cook it down – and it should NOT be in your house! This post explained all the details on how to build a diy maple syrup evaporator for your own backyard.

I covered how to build a cinder block evaporator with an open fire beneath it in a few simple steps. It explains how to create what is essentially a wood stove with cinder blocks that will heat the bottom of the pan to cook down the sap. I show what to use as an evaporator pan for boiling sap so that you have the most surface area exposed for evaporation. I even showed how we started the first year, and how we expanded the second time we made maple syrup. Now that we are 3 years in, we have a bit of a system!

The boiling process

Next, I walked through the boiling process that turns all that cold sap into the final product – a gallon of maple syrup! I go over each step in the process in this post. While it takes a long time to boil it down, you will be so glad you did it!

So, after all that sap hauling, and wood chopping, and evaporator building, and boiling, you don’t want to mess it up at the final boil! The great news is that if you have a big stock pot, and you have a little bit of patience as you stick close to the hot syrup while it comes to a boil, you’ll be just fine! The finished syrup will be WELL worth the effort!

Finishing maple syrup

Making real maple syrup is not for the faint of heart. It does take a lot of work, but the finishing process for your homemade maple syrup is the best part because it’s the time period where all your hard work pays off, or everything goes very wrong. Fortunately, I’ve never burned my syrup yet. BUT I’m completely committed to staying right by it the whole time so no catastrophe overtakes it! I’d recommend the same for you.

canned maple syrup

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Supplies you’ll need for finishing maple syrup:

Stock Pot

Set with jar lifter, magnetic lid lifter, and canning funnel

Mason jars and lids – I have quart jars here but I also really like pint jars or jelly jars.

Candy Thermometer or digital thermometer


Here’s what came in my canning set. There’s a jar lifter, a magnetic lid lifter, and a canning funnel. I have used these over and over and over in my canning endeavors and it was so worth the money!

canning supplies

The jar lifter has silicone on it that allows you to grab jars out of boiling water without having them slip and slide all over. The silicone gives you a firm grip and lets you hold the jar and tilt it upside down so that you can pour the boiling water out of it safely.

canning pot with mason jars in it

The magnetic lid lifter is just a little plastic stick with a magnet in the end. It gives you the ability to grab the lids and rings out of the simmering water without hurting yourself.

mason jar lids and rings in pot

Calibrating your thermometer:

Since the temperature is really important, I usually calibrate my thermometer to make sure it’s correct. At our elevation, the boiling temperature of water is 212 degrees. So I just pop the thermometer into my jar water since I need to bring that to a boil anyway. Once it boils, I make sure it’s at 212 degrees.

My particular candy thermometer is actually able to slide up and down within the metal housing, so it’s especially important for me to slide it to the correct temperature when the water boils. Once it’s calibrated, I’m ready to get started!

As a side note, some people buy a maple thermometer that is specific to the temperatures for maple sugaring. I didn’t find this to be necessary for us! We’ve made gallons and gallons of maple syrup with just an inexpensive candy thermometer.

canning pot with thermometer

Finishing maple syrup on the stove top:

To get started, you’ll want to add water and canning jars to the canning pot and bring the water to a boil. Add the lids and rings to a smaller pot and cover with water. Bring these to a simmer, but do not boil the water. Once the jars are boiling and the lids are simmering, you’re ready to start heating the syrup!

To get started, put the boiled down sap into a stainless steel stock pot and begin to heat it. Once you start, you won’t want to leave it alone, so make sure you’re ready to attend to it for a while. I normally start this on high and let it get boiling. If it seems like it’s going too fast, you can always back it down to medium or medium high because you don’t want to give it too much heat.

Finishing maple syrup on the stovetop:

  1. Put maple syrup in a large pot that has plenty of room for the syrup to expand.
  2. Place candy thermometer in syrup and turn heat to high.
  3. After the maple syrup begins to boil, keep a very close eye on it!
  4. Syrup will start foaming and climb the sides of the pot.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 7 degrees above your boiling point for water (at our elevation, that’s 219), turn off the heat and can or freeze your maple syrup!

How long will it take to finish maple syrup?

It all depends! Usually ours takes forever…like at least a half hour to an hour! But this pot pictured below only took 5 minutes! It totally depends on how far you cooked it down outside on the fire. I think I normally am really cautious and would rather bring it in early because I’m terrified to burn it outside! But I have to say that it was super nice to have such a quick process in finishing the maple syrup this time.

maple syrup in pot with thermometer

Getting to a good rolling boil:

The goal of syrup is to get it to 219 degrees. Technically, we need to get it to 7 degrees higher than the boiling point of water. At our elevation, that works out to 219 degrees. I’ve found that once it’s boiling, you need to wait for it to climb up the side of the pan as it gets closer and closer to the finishing temperature.

boiling maple syrup

Climbing the pan:

Once it starts climbing the pan, you’re almost there! I like this pot because I can see in relation to the rivets on the side how high the syrup has risen. At this point I checked and the temp was around 215 but it vaulted up to 219 SO fast!!

foaming maple syrup

Final stage – 219 degrees

This was 219 degrees — actually I think it went higher than that. Make sure not to give it too much heat. It moved SO quickly that I couldn’t turn it off fast enough! At this point it’s ready to can.

finished maple syrup

How to store syrups:

1. Canning Maple Syrup:

Simply grab a jar out of the boiling water and dump the boiling water back into the pot. Use the funnel and ladle to fill the jar with syrup. Dip the corner of a clean towel into the boiling jar water. Dip a corner of a clean towel into the boiling water and use that to wipe the rim of the mason jar to make sure that no drops of syrup are on it. Then use the magnetic lid lifter to get the lid and ring out of the simmering water and gently twist on to mason jar.

I usually cover my jars with a towel and wait to hear the “click” sound that lets me know it sealed. If any of the jars do not vacuum seal, simply store them in the refrigerator and use immediately.

How to can maple syrup:

  1. Place canning jars in canning pot and cover with water.
  2. Bring jars to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile add lids and rings to a saucepan and cover with water.
  4. Bring rings and lids to a simmer. Do not boil.
  5. Once the jars and boiling and the lids are simmering, start finishing the maple syrup.
  6. After the syrup is at the proper temperature, lift a mason jar out of the boiling pan and dump the water back into the pot.
  7. With a funnel and a ladle, fill the jar with maple syrup.
  8. Take a clean kitchen towel and dip the corner into the boiling water.
  9. Wipe the rim of the mason jar to make sure no syrup is on the edge.
  10. Using a magnetic lid lifter, lift the lid and ring out of the simmering water and gently twist onto jar.
  11. Cover jars with a towel and wait to hear the “click” that it has sealed.
  12. If any of the jars did not seal, store in the refrigerator and use immediately.

2. Can I freeze maple syrup?

Yes! I had this same question because I was super tired and did not want to wait and complete all the extra steps needed in order to can the syrup. Fortunately, I found that you absolutely can freeze maple syrup. I found that I didn’t need to leave much head room for expansion. Additionally, when I defrosted the syrup, it was very slushy since the high sugar content doesn’t allow it to freeze solid. It was so easy!

How to freeze maple syrup:

  1. Gather clean mason jars, lids and rings.
  2. After maple syrup is finished on the stove top, use a funnel to pour the syrup into the jars.
  3. Make sure to leave a little head room in the jar for expansion.
  4. Gently screw on rings and lids.
  5. Allow jars to cool in the refrigerator overnight.
  6. The following day, pop into the freezer.
  7. Pull the jars out of the freezer as needed and allow to defrost

Does it matter what size jar I store the maple syrup in?

Nope! I tend to like to have a quart of maple syrup on hand for our family. But if that’s too much, you can store it in pint jars. Half pint jars are great for gifting and people love them! Any size will work! I’ve even saved glass bottles and used those if I’m using the syrup right away, or freezing it.

Crystals in the bottom of your jar?

While this has never happened to me, I have heard that sugar sand can develop in the maple syrup. We strain ours through cheesecloth before finishing on the stove, but I have heard that many people filter it a second time when they are pouring it into the cans or jars to bottle.

We haven’t done that simply because we haven’t had an issue with the sugar sand. However, if this is a concern for you, the way to prevent it is to just filter it through cheesecloth a second time after it has come to 219 degrees Fahrenheit to do a final filtering.

Does finishing maple syrup have to be done right away?

Good question! The first time I made syrup, I did it the same day we boiled it down. Last year, however, I didn’t have the time to do that. Plus I knew we were going to be doing a couple more boils before the end of the season.

What I did was to put the bucket of almost finished syrup in my deep freeze for a couple of weeks until we did another boil down day. Once we boiled the next amount down, I pulled this out of the freezer and added them together and began finishing maple syrup all at once. It definitely helped to not have to do this finishing process and canning twice!

How does this work if I’m finishing many gallons of maple syrup?

I think if you’ve got a larger operation, you may need to look into other ways to do this. We just tap the trees on our property, so the most syrup we end up with has been 3 gallons, and that has been over the course of the whole maple syrup season.

I think that’s it! That’s my comprehensive guide on how to finish maple syrup on the stovetop, how to can it and how to freeze it. I really hope you try this at home because it’s so rewarding! If you do, let me know how it went in the comments below!

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