Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Things to Do While There's Still Snow, Part 2

For those in Zone 4 and anywhere the days are above freezing and the nights are below freezing, there is still time to tap your maple trees

We've had our taps in for a week and today is the first day we had a good run, so I boiled down 2/3 of a gallon. 

What you need (cheap version): 
tree taps
drill or awl
empty milk cartons
large, wide-bottomed pot
something to hold the finished syrup (empty jar, mason jar, plastic container)

You should already have most of these things in your house. What you do need to buy are the taps. They run @$2-3 depending on where you buy them and their size. They're reusable (just make sure they're dry before you put them away). Most hardware stores and some whole food stores carry them.

Once you have the taps wash out the milk jugs with a teaspoon of bleach and a bunch of water. Get it good and rinsed out (no bleach smell or taste). Then drill a hole in the side 3/4 of the way up where it starts to narrow toward the lid. Keep the lid on the container. 

Next, drill a hole in your maple (only choose maples over 12-18" wide), no longer than your tap (1" is pretty standard). Hammer your tap in. Fit the hole in the jug over the tap. I promise you it probably won't fall if the hole isn't too big. 

Then check it every 24-48 hours. Empty the jug into a pitcher. Boil down. 

I'll try to have more instructions about the boiling process and more pictures as we go along. 

But get out there and get tapping! There's no knowing how long the weather will stay perfect and the sap will rise to wake the trees from their winter sleep.


Anna said...

So far we have collected 5 1/2 gallons. We are going to do some boiling this weekend. The kids are so excited.

Tam said...


We don't have a big lot, only 3 maples (and one never produces anyway).

I did get a friend started though, and lent her 3 taps to get her hooked. Now she has 13 tapped and I'm hearing I may need to clear my stove off to help her out.