March is the time of year when some people are going to be going out and tapping maple trees to get the sap they need to boil it down into maple syrup. Some people say that when the leaves on the oak trees are as big as a squirrel’s ear then it is time to collect the sap. Maple syrup is a sweet treat to pour on pancakes and waffles. Maple syrup can be used as sugar is used in cookies, cakes and pastries. If you are lucky enough to have access to a maple tree or two or three you can make your own maple syrup.
Making maple syrup can be fun and time consuming. Making maple syrup is a good family activity. All you need to make your own maple syrup is the maple trees, tap spigots, buckets and a way to boil down the sap into syrup. To boil down the sap into syrup you can use a stove top or a fire outside. Maple syrup takes a lot of boiling down and it is best not to do it in your house but you can do it in your house if you have an outside air source so the water vapor can go outside. An open window or a vent to the outside will work.
To tap trees first drill a hole in the tree at about thigh height. The drill you use should be the same size as the spigot you use. Drill the hole so it is about and inch and a half deep. Then you can hammer in the spigot into the hole. Hang a bucket on a nail above the spigot so the sap form the spigot can drip into the bucket. Then collect the sap in the bucket every day so you don’t have the bucket overfill. Boil down the sap every day. It takes hours to boil down a gallon of sap. It takes ten gallons of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup. That is just to give you an idea how long it takes to make a gallon of maple syrup. It is best to have multiple taps in multiple trees to gather the sap. A large tree can have 4 taps in it. The smallest tree you should try to tap should be about as big as your thigh is around. You should only put one tap in a tree that small.
After you have collected your sap then you can put the sap in a suitable container to boil the sap in. a suitable container to boil down sap is a long low metal pan. You should boil the sap pretty much right away after you have collected the sap. Some people wait till they collect all their sap before they start to boil it but then you take the chance that your sap could get old and moldy. It is best to boil the sap fresh and put it in jars when it is fresh. You can use quart-canning jars to can the syrup in. Be careful when you can the syrup since the syrup should be very hot and boiling.
You can get tree taps at a hardware store. You can also find any other equipment you might need at a hardware store.
Making your own maple syrup is satisfying. You can use what you have made yourself or you can give it away as gifts. It takes a lot of work to make maple syrup. But in the end you can have a tasty reward.