Tree Tapping 101
If you’re anything like us, the start of maple syrup season is akin to the start of the Christmas holidays.
The arrival of sap in maple trees means spring is on its way and with it comes a slew of tasty maple activities. We sat down with Sugar Moon Farm’s Scott Whitelaw to learn how to reap the maple benefits in our own backyard.
What you’ll need:
- Bucket with lid
Step 1: Choose a maple tree that’s a minimum of 10 to 12 inches in diameter at chest height to drill into.
Pro tip: Never put more than one tap in a tree at once. Over-tapping a tree can cause serious damage.
Step 2: Gently insert your spile into the hole using the hammer.
Did you know? Maple trees are usually 40-50 years old before they’re tapped and can live for up to 300 years!
Step 3: Attach the bucket under the spile so that the sap drips directly into the bucket.
Step 4: Monitor your tree. It’s that easy! When the temperature is above zero sap will drip into your bucket. It should have a mild sweet taste and contain mostly water.
Step 5: Collect your sap. The ratio for sap production is 40 to 1. This means you need to boil 40 litres of sap to make 1 litre of syrup. Scott says many home operations freeze their sap until they have enough to boil.
Did you know? A barrel of pure maple syrup is worth 30 times more than a barrel of crude oil!
Step 6: Boil the sap down to remove the water. When the temperature reaches 7 degrees above the boiling point of water (219 F) it’s generally finished. Use a candy thermometer to measure.
Pro tip: Boiling sap creates a lot of steam. Scott says often people will boil their sap outside to prevent kitchen damage.
Step 7: Enjoy! Use your syrup on pancakes, your morning coffee, a smoothie or desserts.
Note: This article was originally posted in March 2018.