Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Sweetest Time

Here at Chiot's Run the first warmup in the spring signals the start of sugaring season. Early last week we had a day that warmed above freezing so we went out and put taps in all of our maple trees (about 25 taps total). Our predictions were correct and the sap started flowing in some of the trees immediately.
A Little Valentine's SweetnessA Little Valentine's Sweetness
Tapping your maple trees is a wonderful way to get back outside in the spring weather. The season starts before you can do much of anything else in the garden. It really helps cure my cabin fever. Many people think that you can only tap sugar maples, but that is not the case. Most types of maples can be tapped. You'll get a little less syrup as the sap has a little less sugar in it. None of our trees are sugar maples, and our final syrup is fantastic! Of course you have to live in an area with the right climate and you have to have days above freezing and nights below freezing.
A Little Valentine's Sweetness
If you're interested in sugaring your maples I'd recommend it. It's really not that difficult, basically you collect sap from maple trees, boil it down, finish to a certain temperature, strain and enjoy. I'd highly recommend getting a book like Backyard Sugarin' to read through before you begin. I'd also highly recomend reading the book Sugartime: The Hidden Pleasures of Making Maple Syrup, it only the how to of making maple syrup, but some history and an explanation of the beauty of the process. OSU has a great article about hobby maple syrup production that is very in depth if you want to get started right away and don't want to get a book (and it's FREE).
A Little Valentine's Sweetness
You can purchase supplies at on-line, if you don't need tons of supplies Tap My Trees is a great place. I go my local Lehman's store to purchase what I need, you may also be able to find a local store if you check around. There are a bunch of places on-line so search around, I'm guessing if you live in an area where you can tap your trees you'll be able to find supplies locally.
Finishing Off Maple Syrup
We already collected 25 gallons of sap, then the weather turned cold and the sap stopped flowing. It will start again when it warms and we'll keep collecting sap until the trees bud out. Last year we were able to get over a gallon of syrup from our 10-15 trees, hopefully this year we'll get more if the season is longer!

Do you or have you considered tapping your maple trees?

I can also be found at Chiot's Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Not Dabbling in Normal, and you can follow me on Twitter.


trashmaster46 said...

I am so envious! I wish we could do that out here! How awesome, to grow your own maple syrup.

becky3086 said...

I love the jar you collect sap in. My father made maple syrup when I was a kid, we always used buckets. We had lots of trees to tap and made all the syrup we and the neighbors could need.

Carol said...

There is so much that people can do to have a "fun" time and end up with a treat for the family. I live in FL and have Red Maples..never thought of tapping them. We do have a few nights below freezing during the winter. I am trying to catch a swarm or two of Honeybees.

Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

You are so lucky to be able to make your own syrup. I've read about this from other sources as well. It looks really interesting!!! What do you do with the hole in the tree once you're done tapping it? I don't know anything about this at all...but I do love maple syrup :) :) Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

Chiot's Run said...

Becky 3086: our containers are jars that we had in the basement and use for canning at other times of the year, we figured it was better than buying. We also use mason jars.

Heather: the holes simply close back up. By the next sugaring season it's hard to tell where the tap was the previous year. Some people say to put a wooden dowel in the hole, but we have found that the tree heals better when left to heal naturally. We still have places where we put in dowels 3 years ago that aren't as healed as holes from last year.

Bel said...

Oh, I'd love to do this. Maples don't grow where I live. Well, not sugar maples. :)

Laura said...

When you wrote "Most types of maples can be tapped" I started to get really excited. I have dozens of mature bigleaf maples on the back half of my property, but I didn't know they would produce sap.

A quick visit to the google and it turns out that not only do bigleaf maples produce lots syrup, but its just as sweet as sugar maple syrup. In fact, there's a bigleaf maple syrup festival in British Columbia.

The weather right now is just about right, but I have probably missed the main sap flows for this area. Still, I'm going to order some taps and give it a try. SO EXCITING!

Chiot's Run said...

Laura: I missed the main sap flow my first year, but I did get 2 cups of syrup, enough for a few pancakes & french toast. So yummy - good luck making some syrup!

Donna said...

We began tapping our trees last year.We tapped 10sugar,red,and silver maples. We got about a pint of syrup. This year,our neighbor said we could tap her trees,so we are curious to see how much we will wind up. Here in NH,our sugaring season doesn't kick in until March.
Nothing like homemade syrup!!!!

Lunch Lady said...

Used to tap the trees here where I live, used a large nail and pails. Now, its all built up and all but one maple tree are gone or on others properties. 'sigh'