We have a new project for these last few days of winter. We’re tapping our maple trees!
I picked up a basic starter kit at the hardware store. It came with five buckets, five lids and five spiles.
Thankfully the kit also came with instructions on how to get started. We selected trees that were the right size, drilled holes, stuck the spiles in, and watched the magic happen.
The sap started flowing as soon as we drilled the holes. Matt was impatient saying, “Stop taking pictures! We’re wasting sap!” (Picture Kermit arm flailing). The maple syrup has totally turned into Matt’s thing.
The spiles, buckets and lids all hook together in a pretty simple system. The sap travels up the tree, into the spile and then drips into the bucket.
The sap run this year hasn’t been terrific. Last week temperatures shot up, and I had high hopes for a a lot of sap. However, the temperatures were so high that even night was above freezing. Apparently cold nights are critical for sap.
However, we have had a few good days where Matt had to empty the buckets several times.
To collect the sap, Matt takes my biggest stock pot outside and empties the buckets into the pot. Then in the house we strain the sap to get out any dirt or bugs or twigs and put it in big containers in the fridge until we’re ready to move on to the syrup stage–which I’ll talk about in my next post.
Have you ever tapped trees? Are you trying anything new this time of year? What’s your big spring project?
Mmmm, maple syrup!! That is so cool, Julia. It’s amazing to me that you can do that right there on your farm, and it even seems pretty simple. They always did that in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books – there are some wonderful illustrations of them making their wooden buckets and the taps, and how it all worked back then. Pretty similar, actually!
I totally remember those drawings too! In a small scale operation like ours, I don’t think much has changed in how we collect sap and make syrup.
Jan, I think the Little House books are where I first learned about making syrup! I have done just a little reading on collecting sap, it amazes me how many gallons it takes to produce just a little bit of syrup. I am not sure I have ever had pure maple syrup but from what I have read it is worth it!
Do you remember that taffy pulling on the snow? I always wanted to try that.
I didn’t remember that until you mentioned it, Jan! Now I want to go reread the series!
Sarah, go find yourself some real maple syrup! You don’t know what you’re missing.
Absolutely. You can’t go your whole life without maple syrup!
How wonderful that you have this resource! When our son was 10 we took him to Wave Hill (Riverdale, in the Bronx, believe it or not!) to see them make maple syrup the Indian way, by pouring the sap into hollows chopped in fallen logs, then putting in super-heated stones to reduce it to syrup. Totally cool! we hope you get lots of syrup!
I’d forgotten about that technique. I’m pretty sure I saw a demonstration of that too when I was about the same age as your son. Thanks for bringing back a neat memory.