Tap those Maple trees. It is MAPLE SYRUP season.
If you live in a cold climate, have maple trees and patience you too can have homemade maple syrup. YUM!!!
WHAT KIND OF TREES? The trees suitable for tapping include all of the maple family: sugar, silver and red maples as well as box elder. Sugar maple sap contains the highest concentration of sugar (2% or higher according to weather conditions and the health of the tree). Box Elder produces a weaker sap, but one which is especially delicious to drink as is, tasting like a slightly sweet spring water. Other species of trees which reportedly may be tapped including walnut, hickories, sycamore and sweet birch. Trees to be tapped should be at least 1 1/2 feet in diameter, have large healthy crowns, and be well exposed to the sun.
TAPPING THE TREE The flow of sap is highly dependant upon weather conditions. Flow does not begin until after a time of hard freeze, followed by several sunny days with temperatures in the 40s. The peak flow occurs early in the sugaring season when it freezes at night and is bright and sunny the next day with the temperature in the 40s. The flow will stop when daytime temperatures do not go above freezing, or when night temperatures do not go below freezing. The flow usually lasts roughly three to four weeks. While it flows, collect daily the sap, preferably late afternoon. If the trees are tapped too soon and flow does not begin, it is possible that the holes will seal over and subsequent flow is inhabited significantly. The holes may have to be redrilled in this case.
EQUIPMENT Equipment necessary includes spiles, buckets, brace and bit, 5 gallon collection bucket, a large clean plastic garbage can for a reservoir, and an evaporator. Spiles, the tubes driven into the drilled hole, may be ordered through supply houses, or fabricated at home. 3/8" aluminum tubing (PVC or copper may do, but be aware that copper is toxic to plants) may be cut into lengths of 2 1/2", flared at one end to hang the bucket, and tapped with a hammer into a 1/4" hole. (Be certain to remove the spile at the end of the sugaring season since copper is poisonous to the tree if left in.) This info is also here
THEN you boil it for what seems like an eternity. It has to reach 7* above boiling point.
DH and I started tapping yesterday. We use PEX pipe and plastic water jugs.
Drill the first test hole to see if sap is flowing. It is almost 2 weeks early this year. Weather has been good.
Yes!!! There is sap, and boy, is it flowing,
Tap the pex tap in.
Cut a slit in your jug and push it on the tap. Oh, we drill holes in taps at one end for maximum juice, and a notch in the other end to catch the jug to hold it on.
I about 30 min this is what we got on one tree. We need to collect 2-4x a day. Approx. 60-75 taps, maybe more...........
When we collect enough we will use a propane cooker or wood fire to start evaporating process. I have done this in the house, not the best idea. Smells great but the sticky coating that gets on everything. Trust me it gets in places you can't even imagine.
OK so maybe I finish it in the house. I just don't recommend boiling ALL of it in the house
I will post more pics throughout the process.
Edited by Damummis - 3/4/10 at 3:37pm