Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tapping Maple Trees for Sap

While I was in Massachusetts in January my sisters and I visiting a place they go to a lot called Klem's. It seems to carry a little bit of everything from clothing to chicken feed and, lo and behold, spiles and buckets for collecting sap for maple syrup. I'd wanted to to try it for a long time so I bought one set and the pamphlet on how to do it.

The sugar maple is considered the best maple tree to tap but we only have ordinary red maples, and plenty of them. A few days ago, March 6th to be precise, Hal and I tapped the tree next to the chicken coop. I used a 7/16" drill bit to drill a slightly angled hole about 2 inches deep, then tapped the metal spile in with a hammer, hung the bucket on the attached hook, put on the lid to keep out rain and as much tree debris as possible and sat back and waited.

Yesterday the sap started flowing. The temperatures have risen into the 40s the last couple of days and the nights are dropping into the 20s, apparently perfect weather for sap. You can see a little over an inch of sap at the bottom. Today there was 3 times as much, and when we collected it, it amounted to almost a gallon.
Hal made 4 taps out of a piece of half inch copper tubing (jut need to remove it after the season is over) and attached some vinyl hose to plastic juice bottles. None of these have started flowing yet.
Here is the one in the old duck pen.
I also ordered 10 5/16" plastic taps and 2 foot sections of blue hose which arrived today and we tapped 9 more trees, placing 2 in the big maple in front of the house, that tree is 81" in circumference and can easily support two from what I've read. It started flowing immediately and Hal collected about a quart from it after just a few hours.

We need more than 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup. I don't know if we'll accomplish that with just 15 taps in 14 trees, but it's a grand experiment. We just have to get more jugs and food grade containers to hold it all. Then we have to boil it down, that will be interesting.

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