Long lived traditions of maple sugaring have been around before settlers even came to the americas. Native Americans would cut into the bark of maple trees and collect the sap that ran off, cook it down in a hollowed out log by continually adding heated rocks to it.
The traditions carried on to the settlers and are now a spring tradition among many!
So lets break it down into a few simple things to know about maple syrup!
Any maple tree can be used, but there is a hierarchy of maples that are best at sugaring. Sugar maple, black maple, and Norway maple are best. Although, others can be used their syrup production is just much lower.
Sugar maple’s bark is ash-gray and is often broken into hard flakes
Black maple’s bark is of ten smooth and gray when its young, and then scaly and darker when grown.
A good maple tree will produce 15-20 gallons of sap during a single sugaring season, which averages out to about 2 quarts of maple syrup! The larger the trunk, and the great spread of limbs and branches the more sap a healthy tree will give you.
Tap In the early spring, before the buds open, flavor will be at its peak. You want warm days and freezing nights.
A new tap should not be started within 6 inches of a tap scar in a tree that has been tapped previously.
Trees with trunks that are smaller than 10 inches should not be tapped as they could be injured in the process.
When tapping angle your drill about 10-20 degrees, about 2-6 feet from the ground. Once a hole is drilled the spile should be inserted, we cut ours out of copper pipe, and lightly tap them into the drilled hole, taperd side to the top.
We then use a plastic hose and attach it to the spile and insert the other end into a hole of a bucket lid. Our collection buckets are just food grade buckets, the lids help greatly to prevent bugs, and debris falling into your sap.
Sap into syrup
I’ll probably go into a deep post when we start boiling down, I’ll do a part II of this series. But one thing to keep in mind is you do not want to boil sap down in your home, it will result in a sticky mess of sugar residue on your walls, floors, and furniture.
I’ll post part two of maple sugaring in a week or so! In the mean time, happy sapping!