Tapping Our First Maple Trees
Updated: Mar 25
We didn't think it was worth it ... until it was worth it.
This post isn't going to be much of a how-to, I have to admit - because there's so many good how-to videos on the internet, and we are by no means tree-tapping experts. It's more to share our experience of first-time maple-ing.
As you get set up to tap, there's only a few things you need: food-grade buckets, taps, a drill & drill bit, hammer, maybe some hosing (if your buckets will be on the ground, like ours). And a measuring tape to check the diameter of your tree, and to determine how many taps you can put in without damaging it.
The best time to tap trees is when night temperatures are cold (20's-ish) and day temperatures are warm (40's and 50's-ish) - for us this year, that was around the first week of March. This change in temperatures gets the sap flowing.
We were *shocked* how much sap our trees produce in a day. We quickly fill 5-gallon-buckets every 1-2 days or so. If you really want to take advantage of that, make sure you have a big enough set up to keep sap boiling all the time! We hope to have a sugar shack in the future, but for now, the stove worked fine. It wasn't nearly as sticky as we thought it might be, as long as we kept the hood fan on.
We were able to boil down 5 gallons of sap to 1 pint of syrup (we kept it thin, light amber) in just 1 day, if we started around 9 and ended about 12 hours later. The entire time we were thinking "That's a lot of propane. I mean, shouldn't we just buy maple syrup? Is it really worth it?"
Well let me tell you (and if you've made your own, you already know) ... hell. yes. As a true syrup lover (none of that corn syrup Aunt Jemima crap, and I eat so much of it Benny always jokes we should buy stock in syrup) I have never tasted syrup as good as our homemade stuff. It's nuttier and more alive. Aside from just pure sweetness, it has the most beautiful flavor. So yes, 100% worth it.
If you don't have the patience for syrup, though, there are maple water options. Ben liked to drink the sap straight from the tree - but since I'm pregnant and it's not pasteurized, we opted to boil it down just a little (to pasteurize it), jar, and refrigerate. The result is a mineral-rich, slightly sweet, deliciously energizing beverage that takes a lot less effort to make.
Share with us your home maple tapping experiences!