Feb 27, 2011

How To Make Maple Syrup in Your Own Backyard Part 1:Tapping a Tree

Charlie Helps Tap Our Maple Tree

























 It's Maple Sugaring time!  We tried to make maple syrup for the first time last year, but we did not end up producing maple syrup.  We emptied our sap into a large trash can and left it outside, only to find it had turned moldy by the time we were going to cook it down outside about mid April.  We also had burn restrictions here in Minn around that time.  So.....We hope this year will be different.  If you haven't tapped your tree yet, now is the time.  We did today.

How Do You Make Maple Syrup?
1. What trees can you tap?  Maple syrup can be made from any species of maple tree.  Trees that can be tapped include: sugar, black, red and silver maple, and boxelder trees.  Sugar has the highest concentration of sugar
2. What Supplies Do You Need?  
Drill with a 7/16" or 3/8" drill bit
hammer or mallet
5 gallon buckets (with a hole drilled to fit the plastic tube through the lid) (check your local hardware store or asks restaurants or bakeries if they have any to spare.)
plastic tubing (from your hardware store)
taps (check your local DNR Parks visitor shop or online)
3. When Can Trees Be Tapped?  Alternating freezing and thawing temperatures are what allow the sap to flow when the tree is tapped.  So ideally when it's freezing at night and above freezing during the day.  I always remember by when we start to get lots of pot holes.  Once temperatures stay above freezing and buds appear, no more sap will flow.
4. How many taps per Tree?  
less then 10": do not tap
10"-14": one tap
15"-19": 2 taps
20"-24": 3 taps
25" or larger: 4 taps
5. How to Tap a Tree?  Drill a hole in a tree 2-4 ft above the ground.  The hole should be drilled at a upward angle to a depth of 3".
6. use a hammer or mallet to tap the tap into the hole.
7.  Attach plastic Tubing to the tap and to your 5 gallon bucket
8.  Empty sap containers every day into a larger container that is kept cool and out of direct sunlight (we learned our lesson this step is important!)  We purchased a large garbage can for this and we keep it in our garage so it is out of the sunlight.
9.  Once you have 10 gallons of sap it's time to boil it down!  The sap should be stored at a temperature of 38 degrees F or colder, used within 7 days of collection and boiled prior to use to eliminate any possible bacteria growth.  Sap is converted to syrup by boiling off most of the water content of the sap. It takes about 30-40 gallons of sap from a sugar maple to produce one gallon of maple syrup.


Want to attend a free workshop?  Check out your local DNR Park.  They often have free classes, if your in the Twin Cities you can  Click Here for more info on workshops.  We purchased our taps for $1 each at the visitors shop at St Paul's Fort Snelling Park, so check out your local parks visitors shops.

Click Here to read Making Maple Syrup Part 2: Boiling the Sap


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