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tapping maple trees

Posted by dan_howitt (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 19, 08 at 1:32

I've been wanting to get involved in tapping maple trees for sap, to make maple sugar, wondering if anyone has some advice and instructions. By the way I'm a new member, I'm Dan Howitt, and hope I'm in the right section. Great website gardenweb.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: tapping maple trees

We made maple syrup when I was a kid -- it really helps to have an outdoor fireplace/barbeque to save on energy costs. We cooked sap in a large basin, and kept the fire stoked with sticks from the spring clean-up.

We collected the sap in recycled (of course, washed and sterilized) cut-up plastic milk jugs, cut with a hole to loop over the tap, but many people use plastic tubing to save emptying the containers regularly.

If you cook the sap inside (sometimes we did to finish it), be sure to have a good oven vent (lots of steam)!

This link has a guide on the size of tree/# of taps. Hope this helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: University of Maine site on tapping

RE: tapping maple trees

Dan, you could also post your question on the Trees forum. I've not tapped trees (not likely to happen in Georgia!), but I see the sapsuckers (birds) do it - the sap just runs and runs!

Welcome to Garden Web!

RE: tapping maple trees

Yes, I've made maple syrup various ways and tapped trees. You can probably find lots of good info for tapping and processing large amounts of sap online. I'd prefer to give you an at home way to process the sap using common cookware. It is really only to get an idea of what is involved, not a good way to make much syrup.

One relatively easy way to process a small amount of syrup is with a deep electric fryer or roaster. Fill it with six inches of sap and cook it outside until only 1 inch is left. At times it will bubble up so don't overfill. It takes a long time. Pour out the concentrated sap and cook more batches. When you have several batches of concentrate you combine them and cook them down even more. Since most sap needs to reduced to about 1/40th its original volume to get syrup, this will take ALOT of time and ALOT of sap. Doing alot of the boiling out on my deck keeps the moisture out of my house. To finish up the syrup, do your final cooking inside. You want to evaporate until the syrup temperature is 7 degrees above boiling....219 F in many places...but not all, depending on altitude and barometric pressure that day. A candy thermometer from Target or elsewhere works okay. After awhile you can gauge how your syrup is doing by eye, but for the first several batches you will want to watch a good thermometer carefully. And remember, at times it will bubble or foam up. (As the sugar content increases, so does the boiling point.)

This method used equipment many people have around and gives you a chance to try the process without having to buy anything too unusual or costly. It is only good to make a small amount of syrup. If you want to process large amounts of sap you would want an evaporator pan and a wood fire. Cooking with electric or gas would get costly.

Realise that producing only 1 cup of syrup will require almost 3 gallons of sugar maple sap to be concentrated down. That is ALOT of steam. If you tap red maples it will take even more sap since their sap contains even less sugar.

Maple syrup time is wonderful. I love most everything about it.

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