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Maple syrup time

 
George Meljon
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If you're in the USA, I'd imagine just about anywhere after the cold winter spread all over, it's time to start tapping maples for some syrup. I went to the local hardware store and picked up four taps and a book recommended by a gentleman twice my age who was also buying taps. He was kind enough to invite me out to his acreage to see what he's doing and I'll take him up on it. It's my first year and I have identified 6 or 7 black maples to tap. Today was warm, but it's getting cold this week one more time, then we'll tap. How about you? Do you crave maple syrup?
 
Akiva Silver
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Don't forget to drink the sap. Drink it, cook with it, it's one of the best parts of the whole deal.
 
George Meljon
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Re-identified my maples and it turns out theyre red maple. Not too worried as its not bad for syrup. In fact I have read sycamore and hickory can be tapped to. There is another thread on here about tapping birch and walnut. Since this is my first year I will tap a maple, a birch, a bitternut hickory, and a sycamore to see what happens.

Any more info on using the sap for drink and cooking?
 
Dale Hodgins
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Denis Huel
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Silver maple can survive quite wet conditions. They are a much more useful tree than willow. Some are high in sugar.




Planted 150 silver maples seedlings that I grew from seed collected from some very large local trees in a low wet area on my farm last year. I hope I live long enough to tap them. If not maybe the kids will. Hope to grow several hundred more seedlings this year.
 
S Haze
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Planted 150 silver maples seedlings that I grew from seed collected from some very large local trees in a low wet area on my farm last year. I hope I live long enough to tap them. If not maybe the kids will. Hope to grow several hundred more seedlings this year.


You should live long enough to tap them unless you're really old!

At least in my climate they grow very fast. I know of silver maples planted (from saplings) about 25 years ago that are now over 2 feet in diameter!
 
John Polk
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I am in the PNW, where the traditional syrup trees do not thrive.
Here, the Broad Leaf Maple is probably our best choice if we want syrup.

A couple of links that may be helpful to you:
http://www.for.msu.edu/uploads/files/extension/facts17.pdf
and big leaf specific (but will x-late to others): http://www.blmaple.net/

(P.S., I'm a glutton: Grade B, or ungraded is what I look for...can't find ungraded here on west coast...
have to search far & wide to find grade B...they think it is inferior, and won't sell...WRONG ! )

 
Nicole Alderman
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I live in the Pacific Northwest, too. For my birthday, my husband bought me the supplies for maple tapping. So far, from just two Big Leaf Maples, each tapped once, we've hauled in about 15 gallons of sap, in just one month! The sap of the Big Leaf is quite tasty, and the syrup has a kind of brown sugar-y flavor. We're boiling it down on our wood stove, which has the added benefit of humidifying out house for our 4 month old. I love the fact we can make our own sweetener for free. We figure it'll make good Christmas presents, too.
 
David Livingston
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Anyone know any good sites telling you how to tap the sap ? I was reading that you can tap walnut sap and I was going to give it a try but I have never done this before any one any suggestions ?
I like the idea as I will get two harvests a year from the trees ! Stacking or what !
David
 
George Meljon
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David Livingston wrote:Anyone know any good sites telling you how to tap the sap ? I was reading that you can tap walnut sap and I was going to give it a try but I have never done this before any one any suggestions ?
I like the idea as I will get two harvests a year from the trees ! Stacking or what !
David


This is a decently illustrated one:

http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/Buds_and_Bark/tapping_sugar_maple_index.html

You will need to buy a tap (3-4 dollars ea.) from a local hardware store that carries them. I don't think every one will, so maybe call ahead.
 
David Livingston
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Thanks for that . George
Unfortunetly a couple of problems
Firstly I only have one tree big enough another is that I have no where to buy a tap .
Any suggestions folks of what I could use instead ?
I think I will put this plan on the back burner for next year and try to buy a tap in the mean time .

David
 
Christian Kettner
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Just throwing this out there...
Has anyone read the article on the new info about maple syrup production from coppiced saplings??. Ill try to look for the article....fascinating ..production was very good.
Ill try to hunt it down to share..
Would be interesting to explore the possibilities ..get some production earlier while waiting for the main trees to mature...interesting to think about.
 
George Meljon
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David Livingston wrote:Thanks for that . George
Unfortunetly a couple of problems
Firstly I only have one tree big enough another is that I have no where to buy a tap .
Any suggestions folks of what I could use instead ?
I think I will put this plan on the back burner for next year and try to buy a tap in the mean time .

David


I met someone, and have read that you can make a tap out of a doweling rod - drill a hole in the middle of one. Then tap that into the whole you drilled.

Here is a great youtube on how to whittle your own tap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiAh2J1lIOs

 
Christian Kettner
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Here is the url to the article I mentioned earlier..
http://vtdigger.org/2014/01/27/uvm-discovery-boost-maple-syrup-production/
 
Dale Hodgins
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David. Check to see if others in your area are tapping trees. The mild climate of England may not be ideal. Areas that see many freeze-thaw cycles get better sap run. It would probably work better on high ground than on the coast. My cell doesn't let me see your exact location.
 
David Livingston
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Hi Dale
This is me here
http://www.permies.com/t/31583/projects/Permie-Pennies-France
England is not that good climate wise for Walnuts but France is . Yesterday I was in the Orchard and I noticed that some of the Walnut trees I had cut down as they were too close to the apple and pear espelliers, the stumps were covered in sap so I think it worth a go . I have about a dozen trees about 6 to 9 inches across and one big daddy of them all about 18 inch across .
I was thinking of carving taps from elder as it hollows out easy . Cut the bark off hollow out jobs a good'n . Elder wood must have some use !
No one I know of makes maple syrup here in France although we have lots of maple , even some huge buggers 75m+ this could be my niche ! So lets keep it quiet
Seriously I see it takes a lot of effort and heat to make this syrup , its strictly as home deal only if I can get it to work .

David
 
George Meljon
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David Livingston wrote:Hi Dale
This is me here
http://www.permies.com/t/31583/projects/Permie-Pennies-France
England is not that good climate wise for Walnuts but France is . Yesterday I was in the Orchard and I noticed that some of the Walnut trees I had cut down as they were too close to the apple and pear espelliers, the stumps were covered in sap so I think it worth a go . I have about a dozen trees about 6 to 9 inches across and one big daddy of them all about 18 inch across .
I was thinking of carving taps from elder as it hollows out easy . Cut the bark off hollow out jobs a good'n . Elder wood must have some use !
No one I know of makes maple syrup here in France although we have lots of maple , even some huge buggers 75m+ this could be my niche ! So lets keep it quiet
Seriously I see it takes a lot of effort and heat to make this syrup , its strictly as home deal only if I can get it to work .

David


This fact may bend me quick towards getting a rocket mass stove together.
 
David Livingston
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Just had a quick look on Wiki and at the links kindly provided above .
Using the little treees seems a none starter as its a very equipment heavy deal ( plus ££££££ ) but I do have about 20 +Red maples ( I think they are red maples I will have to check ) the big trees I have are plane trees not quite the same .

David
 
David Livingston
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This site seems interesting
http://tapmytrees.com/

David
 
Nicole Alderman
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No one sells tapping supplies here in the Pacific Northwest, either. Since my husband didn't have time to order a tapping set from amazon (they sell them there), he just went to the harware store and bought some tubing and a "tap." I don't know hardware very well, so I can't tell you what, exactly it is he bought, but I can post pictures. Hopefully this will help!
Maple Tap 1.jpg
[Thumbnail for Maple Tap 1.jpg]
Close-Up of our Tap
Maple Tap 2.jpg
[Thumbnail for Maple Tap 2.jpg]
All our tapping components, except the water jug
Maple Tap 3.jpg
[Thumbnail for Maple Tap 3.jpg]
Complete Tapping Set-Up
 
Dale Hodgins
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Gary is the go to guy for west coast maple syrup knowledge. He's one of the first people that I met when arriving here 21 years ago. His wife and my ex are best friends. He has a number of books on syrup and kayaking. They hosted my daughter's graduation party last fall. He showed me his antique hammer collection. This is a 9th century Viking blacksmith's hammer found near Kiev. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/sustainability/bc-bigleaf-maple-syrup-finding-its-niche/article1371859/
IMAG4458.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMAG4458.jpg]
 
Victor Johanson
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David Livingston wrote:Thanks for that . George
Unfortunetly a couple of problems
Firstly I only have one tree big enough another is that I have no where to buy a tap .
Any suggestions folks of what I could use instead ?
I think I will put this plan on the back burner for next year and try to buy a tap in the mean time .

David


I've tapped birch trees here with short copper pipe nipples (pipes with threads on each end). The ones I used were about 4" long and a bit less than 1/2" in diameter. If you size your drill bit right, you can then just screw them into the tree--works great. Tip them up a bit so you can hang a container and get to boiling!
 
Bill Erickson
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David,

It should be fairly simple to visit a hardware store and find the bits and pieces to make some spiles (that's the proper name for a tree tap so I'm told). There are plenty of Utubulous videos on how to make your own from basic materials and even that simple carved one. That, some tubing, a bucket or so and you are in the syrup business. I guess the key is to size it right (12 to 20mm) and the hole you drill should be angled up at 10-15 degrees.
I understand you need to plug the hole once the sap has finished its run to prevent critters and disease from getting in. But next season it is just pull the plug, tap your spile in and wait for the goodness to flow. If you aren't up to it this season, this summer and fall are good times to tap the trees, make some plugs and build your spiles for next spring.
We don't have many of this type of tree in my area, but when I was in Alaska, one of the folks I knew tapped birch for syrup. They had an elaborate network of plumbing in their grove that went to the sap house. Sap pooled in the trays, they cooked the water off and used the waste heat to run heated water along the lines to keep the pipes warmed and the sap running. A pretty cool setup. Anyway, sounds like a nice little niche to find yourself in there.

Bill

Oh, I just had some toast with "Maple Butter" which is pure syrup that is whipped until it makes a very thick butter. It was awesome. I picked it up at the Cold Hollow Cider Press store when I was in Vermont a year or so ago. And John is right, Grade B syrup is the bomb.
 
Matthew Spaar
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Is it to late to tap? I live in south east pa and this would be my first try. we had warm days here and there but it seems like this coming week is going to be a steady 40ish day 30ish night.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Are the buds already on the trees? I believe the sap stops flowing once the buds are out. Ours are here in the Pacific Northwest, and we haven't had any more sap flowing, even when it got cold enough at night .
 
siu-yu man
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bump...almost time again, ladies & gents.

check out this recipe --
http://www.probioticscenter.org/fermented-birch-sap/

i suppose all saps could be fermented similarly?
might be a good way to get around having to boil it down and still deliver the goodies w/o spoiling.
 
Fred Tyler
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Large tracts of land are not needed for Maple syruping. A roommate and i have done it without owning even a single maple tree in urban St Paul, MN. We made a map noting which neighbors had good maple trees. When syruping time came around, we went about the neighborhood with a bit and brace, buckets, and spiles asking neighbors if we could tap their trees. Almost everyone was excited to let us tap their trees. Some even offered to buy syrup from us when we were done. When the the buckets started to fill we toured the neighborhood on bike and filled empty 5 gallon jugs with sap and loaded them into our trailer (we used the discarded plastic jugs that bakeries and restaurants get their cooking oil in. they have a threaded top and are very leakproof). We used an old kid carrier, so we could only fit about 23 gallons of sap (at 200lbs, an ok limit), so on the best days we had to make a couple of runs to get sap from all the taps. We found that the square plastic buckets worked best. They were easiest to transfer to the transport jugs as the corner concentrates the pouring sap. The lids of the square buckets also stayed in place best. The lids keep rain, snow and tree debris from falling in the bucket. If you have more time than money, these buckets are easy to get used, but need thorough cleaning. They can be found at bakeries (they get eggs or cake frosting in them), or delis (they get mayo in them).

Bill Erickson wrote:
I understand you need to plug the hole once the sap has finished its run to prevent critters and disease from getting in. But next season it is just pull the plug, tap your spile in and wait for the goodness to flow. If you aren't up to it this season, this summer and fall are good times to tap the trees, make some plugs and build your spiles for next spring.


If you want to get a good sap flow, the hole should be made at the beginning of the syruping season (late Feb to early March). Some of the massive operations have to tap so many trees they start drilling holes as early as January. Towards the end of the season as the weather warms fungi, bacteria, and yeasts interact with the sap inside to form a gummy substance that blocks further sap flow. So, if you tap too early you may miss some of the late flows. At the end of the season, the hole you've drilled for your spile should be left open after removing your spile. Nothing we could put in the hole can be guaranteed to be sterile and is more likely to be a source of disease. A healthy tree should close the hole within two years. The trees i've tapped in Minnesota healed within one growing season. When you drill your new hole make sure it is at least 6" laterally from a past hole and at least 4" vertically. Over the years you will work your way around the tree with holes. The most productive taps are on the south side of the tree above a big root or below a big branch. Because of this, you may not want to stray too far, but if we concentrate our holes in too small of an area our flow will be reduced trying to get sap through scar tissue and damaged xylem and the tree may have a hard time trying to heal our damage. If you are putting a hole directly above or below a past hole, it should not be within 2ft. By limiting the number of taps (see chart in link below) and moving them yearly a tree can stay healthy and be tapped for many generations. We use 5/16" stainless steel spiles (the smaller size helps the tree heal faster). They are easy to sterilize (boiling) before use, and easy to clean after use. If you are going to use homemade wood taps, i would not recommend that they be reused, as they can harbor diseases that could infect the tree.

I would also caution against making the syrup indoors. Unless you are doing a very small amount this could have disastrous results. The average gallon of maple syrup started out as 40 gallons of sap. That means you will have 39 gallons of water vapor in your house. Your drywall will soak this moisture out of the air and can get moldy. If you have wall paper, it can start to peel off.

Besides the Tapmytrees link in a previous post, a good resource is Maple Syrup Production for the Beginner from Cornell.

 
Fred Tyler
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Has anyone integrated a rocket stove with their evaporator? What is your setup?
 
Bill Erickson
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Fred Tyler wrote:<snip a cool entrepreneurial endeavor>
If you want to get a good sap flow, the hole should be made at the beginning of the syruping season (late Feb to early March). Some of the massive operations have to tap so many trees they start drilling holes as early as January. Towards the end of the season as the weather warms fungi, bacteria, and yeasts interact with the sap inside to form a gummy substance that blocks further sap flow. So, if you tap too early you may miss some of the late flows. At the end of the season, the hole you've drilled for your spile should be left [b]open after removing your spile. Nothing we could put in the hole can be guaranteed to be sterile and is more likely to be a source of disease.[/b] A healthy tree should close the hole within two years. The trees i've tapped in Minnesota healed within one growing season. When you drill your new hole make sure it is at least 6" laterally from a past hole and at least 4" vertically. Over the years you will work your way around the tree with holes. The most productive taps are on the south side of the tree above a big root or below a big branch. Because of this, you may not want to stray too far, but if we concentrate our holes in too small of an area our flow will be reduced trying to get sap through scar tissue and damaged xylem and the tree may have a hard time trying to heal our damage. If you are putting a hole directly above or below a past hole, it should not be within 2ft. By limiting the number of taps (see chart in link below) and moving them yearly a tree can stay healthy and be tapped for many generations. We use 5/16" stainless steel spiles (the smaller size helps the tree heal faster). They are easy to sterilize (boiling) before use, and easy to clean after use. If you are going to use homemade wood taps, i would not recommend that they be reused, as they can harbor diseases that could infect the tree.

I would also caution against making the syrup indoors. Unless you are doing a very small amount this could have disastrous results. The average gallon of maple syrup started out as 40 gallons of sap. That means you will have 39 gallons of water vapor in your house. Your drywall will soak this moisture out of the air and can get moldy. If you have wall paper, it can start to peel off.

Besides the Tapmytrees link in a previous post, a good resource is Maple Syrup Production for the Beginner from Cornell.



Thanks for that bit I bolded and italicized, Fred. My knowledge of that is anecdotal from a friend I knew up in Alaska who tapped birch trees. I am sure your statement is true for all trees, and his was likely second hand information as his family hadn't done syrup in a long time.

I really liked your spirit and drive to make syrup even without a forest of your own to do it in. Awesome.
 
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