Tag Archives: sugaring season

Boiling Sap

After visiting my family tapping trees yesterday, I decided to continue the sugaring season theme and visit Ed’s family today while they boiled down sap.  It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup, so you can imagine what a long process it is.

The sugar house

Ed’s dad stands over the evaporator, getting what I call a maple sap facial

The wood-fired evaporator

As I said yesterday, dogs aren’t required, but who wouldn’t want to have the dogs present? Tucker and Jed made our time in the sugar house more fun.

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Tapping Trees

A couple of people have expressed interest in seeing more about making maple syrup, so I headed on over to the farm today to visit everyone tapping trees.  I’m no expert, but I used to help when I was a kid and I understand the basic process.  If you would like to learn to make maple syrup, I suggest you speak to people in your area for more specifics.

Step 1: Gather materials.  A big family (or lots of friends) is important, because lots of hands make quick work.  You’ll also need:

  • Farm Dogs- They’re not required, but why wouldn’t you want to bring the dogs along?

Duke

Benny

  • Transportation vehicles- Again, not required, but they make it more fun. 

My cousin’s truck: Big Blue

Nate on his quad cutting off me and Jon on the gator. See mom? I told you I had proof!

  • Oh yes, you can’t make maple syrup without: maple trees, drills, quills, hooks, pails, covers, tubing.

Step 2: Drill holes in the maple trees.  We used to use hand-drills when I was little, but now battery drills are much faster.

Um, Dad, I seem to remember that you’re not supposed to climb ladders due to your bad back!!!

Drilling a hole

The bigger and older the tree, the more taps you can put on it.

Step 3: Hammer in the quill. A quill is like a little spout that allows the sap to pour out.

Step 4: Hang pails or attach tubing. We use both pails and tubing to collect the sap.  They each have their own advantages.

Pails have a nice old-fashioned look to them.  The disadvantage is that you have to collect sap from them every day to avoid overflow. 

They also have covers, but I forgot to take pictures of them…

Tubing for sap lines is convenient because it runs from tree to tree and collects in a container.  The advantage is that you don’t have to collect sap every day, it runs right into the collection tank.  However, it just doesn’t have the same New England rustic appeal that the metal pails have.

After the trees are tapped, you hope for the perfect weather for the sap to run.  Temperatures need to be freezing at night, but above freezing during the day.  When you get enough sap, you can start boiling it down in the sugar house to make maple syrup.  It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.

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Filed under Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Sustainable Living