The Sap Collector's Thread

Discussion in 'DIY / Self Sufficiency' started by Tjschicks1817, Feb 3, 2015.

  1. Tjschicks1817

    Tjschicks1817 Out Of The Brooder

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    This will be my wife and I first year collecting sap from the Maple trees on our property. We have 6 trees or so. Anybody else collect Sap? Any tips for a newbie lol. We live in SE Michigan and the time to tap is just around the corner. Getting excited for this, can't wait to Produce our own syrup.[​IMG]
     
  2. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm excited for you! We don't have any maple trees on our property so no sugaring for us. I would love to try it though. Our maple syrup connection is having shoulder surgery, so he is not going to make any extra syrup for sale this year. [​IMG][​IMG] [​IMG]
    He gets me hooked on real maple syrup and then cuts me off! I even offered to go over and help him make it, since I am not currently working.
     
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  3. Ole and Lena

    Ole and Lena Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Commercial taps and bags/buckets are a luxury. You can get what you need in the plumbing section of Menards or Lowes for about a buck a tree. I use 1/2" PEX connector nipples and 1/2" poly line. I collect in either pails/milk jugs if the ground is flat enough or a 2 gal ziplock bag tacked to the tree if too much slope to hold a bucket. Drill a 1/2" hole for your connector/tap about 1 1/2" deep. This will give you a tight seal and reduce sap loss around your spile hole. When you're done tapping, the plastic taps are either pulled out with a vice grips or drilled out if they won't come.

    Big, bushy trees will yield more sap and higher sugar content. These will also run sooner than forest trees. Trees exposed to sun (S and W slopes) will run first. When the frost starts to break, you will get a huge flush of sap. Be prepared to store and process a lot at once. There is no finer, more refreshing drink when you're working hard than ice-cold maple sap right out of the pail!

    Don't boil it down inside. Everything will get coated in sugar. I do about a 99% boil outside over an old wood stove, boil until it starts to froth and get oily looking. Finish inside the garage over a converted LP burner from an old water heater (about the same firepower as a commercially sold fish cooker). I have a regulator valve installed so I can moderate the burn down to a fine simmer when it's almost there. Use a candy thermometer. My wife usually does the final finish so I'll have to ask her what setting on the thermometer is perfect. I pre strain the sap before and after finishing. Strain through a flour sack towel cleaned in boiling water and vinegar, then boiled again in clean water. Doesn't get all the sediment, a small amount precipitates to the bottom of jars after canning. That's the most flavorful part of the jar!
     
  4. Tjschicks1817

    Tjschicks1817 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thats what I'm talking bout Lol Great Info. THanks. I hear what ya mean about the commercial tap kits. I wanna do buckets so I've been trying to find a cheaper way of just buying the buckets and taps separate.
     
  5. Tjschicks1817

    Tjschicks1817 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aw man, You gtta let him know he can't be cutting u off like that Lol Gotta have that Maple fix.Lolol.
     
  6. Ole and Lena

    Ole and Lena Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wife says 218-219 was the boiling point for syrup. You'll have to google and cross reference. Try a couple of very small batches first until you get the hang or you'll scorch a whole day's worth of boiling.

    For a boiler I use a steam table tray like the Chinese buffet uses. My old wood stove is a box type with a swing out cover, and the tray fits almost perfectly on top of the firebox directly over the fire. I used a 6' section of stove pipe with a damper to control the fire and get the smoke out of my eyes. The large surface area of the tray allows for pretty rapid water removal. I can boil down about 4 gals of water an hour if I tend it and keep a really hot fire underneath. If you don't have a sugar shack, you'll have to build a wind screen or the cold wind will rob a lot of your heat and keep your boil inefficient. I rigged 2 pallets with concrete board. I T post them in on the upwind side of the stove, really close to it, to block the majority of the wind. Then I lean a couple pieces of scrap plywood in a little farther away on the other 2 sides to keep as much heat in the system as possible while still allowing water vapor to freely vent away. I can use a cover on the tray, fill the pan to the top and stoke the fire with an all-nighter, damp everything down and put it to bed. Will boil off about half the pan overnight while I sleep.

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    Last edited: Feb 3, 2015
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  7. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's not quite time yet...but we're also watching the weather.

    Ideally, daytime temps should be between 35 and 40 with nights around 20. This is the beginning of the run! We had a spurt last week of two days of these temps which made me think about getting the gear out. And then Lake Michigan dropped 18" of snow on us.

    We have two trees - and it seems that each one will give better sap production on different years. As the trees are mature, I can put two taps in each one (trunks are well over 3' diameter). And sometimes, one tap will give better than the other on the same tree.

    I purchased taps from a local historical site (cost was $3.99 each - and since it supports the museum I adore, yeah, well, I paid it). I collect plastic water jugs from friends and neighbors (the 1gal size) and simply cut a small hole near the top (where the bottle is still flat) and hang the jug on the tap. If you keep the lid, you don't even have to transfer the sap into new container to refrigerator! And it's got a handle too! The advantage of the lid is that it keeps debris and insects out of the sap. I found an open bucket would get leaf litter or small insects collecting in the bottom of the pail - not desireable. (I don't take credit for the idea of using old jugs....I saw it on the internet!)

    I gather the sap daily and refrigerate it - replacing the jug with an empty one and the full one goes directly into the fridge. As typically, the best collecting is just when the temps reach 30-35 degrees - and the sap just flows/runs!

    We use a propane camp stove to boil the sap on. I collect for a couple of days - usually 4 or 5 gallons. Harbor Freight sells a multi-size set of stock pots cheaply (I think it was $19 for 4 pots). So I start boiling in the biggest ones and work my way down. Once a batch is getting 'close', I'll move it indoors to be able to watch it closer. Please know, it takes literally hours to boil off the water and just minutes when it reaches syrup! DON'T LEAVE IT once it's indoors. Not even to answer the phone or other mundane tasks. Spending hours cleaning smoke from your kitchen walls, ceiling, cupboards, contents - it just isn't worth it! (BTDT).

    I do use a candy thermometer. Depends on how thick you wish your syrup to be. And remember, as it cools, it gets thicker. One batch was nearly candy consistency last year.

    This is our fifth (?) year of making syrup. It's a wonderful by-product of owning a beautiful tree.
     
    2 people like this.
  8. Tjschicks1817

    Tjschicks1817 Out Of The Brooder

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    I pretty much got that same wood stove downstairs in the fireplace. Guess Ill have to lug it outside [​IMG]
     
  9. chicken pickin

    chicken pickin Overrun With Chickens

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    We tap also. This will be our second season tapping. What don't have maples on our property, but we are very lucky, and thankful, that DH has a friend with 60 acres and many maples and they allow us to tap on their property. We appreciate that they share their trees with us, and we repay them in maple syrup.

    Im looking forward to maple tapping again this year. We tried in 2013 but was unable to locate maples on our property to tap. Then is 2014 we were fortunate that DHs friend offered to let us tap on his property. We did 6 taps in 2014 and were very successful at collecting lots of sap and was able to make plenty of syrup that lasted us most of the year. This year 2015 we are tapping on the same property as last year but we are going to double our taps to 12. I truly enjoy this season and am looking forward to doing it again this year. It might be very time consuming boiling the sap down but it is soooo rewarding.

    Last season I didn't have much of any other option but to boil down the sap in my kitchen on the stove top, but this year I would love to find a different way to do it. Mainly I would like to find a way not be doing it in the kitchen, also are there any other cost efficient ways to boil down sap other than electricity, and should it really be done outside? If not I was thinking about getting a second cheap stove and putting it in the garage by the back door so I can boil down out there, out of the weather, with doors open to allow the moisture and steam to vent outside. Or maybe some type of electic counter top stove or camping stoves. We also have a 2 propane type burners. Im note sure which route I want to go yet.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
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  10. Tjschicks1817

    Tjschicks1817 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thats awesome!! We just got our buckets the other day. Ordered off ebay so the $ wasn't too bad. We got 8 buckets, I wanna double tap a couple of the big ones. [​IMG]
     

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