Preparing For the First Syrup

Feb. 24, 2018 – So how does someone turn tree sap into golden, delicious syrup? First, dig through the snow in your yard to find the fire pit. We actually had about a foot of snow, so I ended up snow blowing a path around the house. Once I found the pit, I decided to melt the snow in the pit so it’d be ready when I began boiling the sap. It took quite a few fire starters to burn through the wet wood, but after a while, the pit was ready.

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The first weeks sap wasn’t much, but every day after school I greatly anticipated seeing how much new sap I received. I believe the first week’s haul was about 12 gallons of sap, but that was only about eight taps from two frees. You have to keep the sap cold, otherwise it will spoil, so I tried to pile up snow around it in case we had warmer days. It will freeze, so my planning was around getting it to be just above freezing the day before making syrup. Sap looks and flows like water, but has a hint of sweet to it.

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Maple taps used to only be metal and are called spiles. The more modern invention is a plastic tap that, after drilling the correct sized hole in the tree, you stick in and brings the sap through a plastic hose into your container of choice. I chose milk jugs because they were food-grade and plentiful in our growing household.

Did you know? While sugar maple trees are often used the most due to their higher sugar to water ratio, other types of trees can be tapped too, including red and silver maples (what I have), hickory, birch, box elder, and walnut!

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