Keep checking until the sap stops flowing and then you can turn the sap into syrup. Buckets and lids. You’ll be mighty disappointed if you don’t have a way to hang them. While the syrup is very tasty, the Red Maple tree creates less sap than either the Black or the Sugar Maple tree varieties. Another option, of course, would be to identify the trees in the summer or fall when the leaves are still on the branches. • Some folks love to drink the sap right after it flows from the tree, this is not recommended! Drill a hole about 1.5 inches into the tree – slightly uphill – so the sap will run down. You’ll want to check your buckets daily and empty any collected sap. If you delay and let the sap sit in a bucket overnight it will likely freeze and have to be pitched. How to tap your tree. So, if you’re placing two put one on the south side and one on the north. 2. Even birch and walnut will provide you with plenty of sweet, flavorful sap that you can boil down. What species of maple tree is it? You’ll want to drill your tap hole on the south-facing side of the tree. Hooks. In the fall, you probably ooh and aah at the beautiful red, orange, and yellow shades the leaves from these trees turn each October. Maple trees have what we dubbed “helicopters” when growing up. The sugar content of the Black Maple tree is approximately two percent. The south side of trees generally get the most sun, making them the warmest side, and the side where sap flow will be the best. Are you looking for a group of like-minded people that love the heritage way of life?? These trees could be defined as the most generous trees of all, in terms of sap production and sugar release. Attach the lid to the bucket and spout/spile as indicated by the directions on your specific equipment. Tapping buckets must have a firm fitting lid. Once you drill your hole, you’ll need to pound your spile into the tree. The abundance of sap will vary depending not only on the tree, but the type of maple. You will want to use a bit about the same diameter as your spile (typically 5/16″ or 7/16″ ). Trees are best tapped when the temperature is warm during the day and cold at night. 5. First off, you can tap many deciduous trees for sap. If it’s a little more narrow, that’s ok, too. This will vary wildly depending on the tree, but typically each tree will produce anywhere from 5 to 15 gallons of sap per tap, per season. Trees between 10 and 20 inches in diameter should have no more than one tap per tree. Picking trees with the most exposure to sunlight can also help with the flow of sap. Place the tapping hole at least 3 feet from the bottom of the tree. It has bark that is dark gray in color. Tap the SOUTH side of the tree. You’ll be glad you did. Typically, the sap flows best with these fluctuations in temperature. Their leaves are either silver or white on the bottom, and boast a more pointy shape than the leaves from hard maple tree varieties. 2. A lot of times you will tap a tree that you think is a maple tree going to find out that there’s no SAP the reason why there’s no SAP is that it’s probably not a maple. In my personal experience, the 5-gallon buckets with lids sold at farm and garden stores like Tractor Supply or Rural King work just fine for tapping trees. Spiles. • The amount of sap you get in your buckets in a single day will vary based upon fluctuations in temperature. • Black Walnut – This tree produces not only delicious nuts, but a tasty sap as well. To boil sap, bring it to a full and rolling boil, and hold it there for about one minute, before turning off the heat. I hope you have warm days and cold nights for good runs. Make sure that the size of your drill bit matches up with the tap, also known as a spile, for a snug fit. 3. Generally, if the weather is right, the sap will immediately begin flowing from the tree. If you have an abundance of trees that you can utilize for tapping, you should absolutely try this rewarding experience. This doesn’t require anything fancy, just a few things and you’ll have sap flowing. Each tap will yield 5-15 gallons of sap per season. 1. How to tap a maple tree This blog comes from Cathy Entwhistle, a Senior Park Interpreter at Bronte Creek Provincial Park. Never tap a maple tree that is smaller than 10 inches/25 cm in diameter. Hammer. Do not hammer the spile If the maple tree measures 8”-18” one tap can be made in the tree. If you have chosen the right time to tap, the sap from the tree should begin to flow, at least slightly, from the tree immediately after the spout has been affixed. This are your “taps”. Hard maple tree varieties like the black, rocky, and sugar maple, typically produce the highest sap content. Trimming maple trees involves pruning out diseased or broken branches at least 6 inches into healthy wood. If it’s light brown or beige, the tree is most likely healthy and you have selected a good spot to garner sap. I used to tap trees and make maple syrup, lots of fun with plenty of hard work. Hard maple varieties begin letting loose of their seeds usually in either the late summer or early autumn. And if the shavings are a dark brown when you drill into it, pick a different spot (the shavings should be light brown). I can’t tell from the picture. We prefer metal. For example, a tree more than 15″ in diameter can handle 2 taps, and 20″ can handle 3 taps, etc…. Published: December 26, 2019 • Modified: March 20, 2020 • By: Danielle McCoy • As an amazon affiliate I earn commissions on qualifying purchases. Maple trees that give the most sap are of the sugar or black variety. Drill a hole about 1-1/2″ – 2″ into the tree at an slight upward angle. • White Walnut – Sap from the White Walnut (or Butternut Tree) contains the same high percentage of sugar as the Sugar Maple tree. I’m Danielle. 3. You want the temperature to alternate above freezing in the day, and below freezing at night. The bark on soft maple tree varieties feature bark that can best be described as flaky, and comprised of layers in a lighter shade of gray, usually. The sugar and syrup produced from this variety is incredibly sweet and delicious. Maple trees grow throughout the U.S., and in various parts of the country, mid-February through mid-March is when their sap starts to flow, making it the perfect time to tap. Hopefully, its Acer saccharum (sugar maple), if not you’ll need even more sap. For huge trees above 27 inches in diameter, use three taps when collecting sap. You can, however, tap any maple tree. Find a maple tree. Required fields are marked *. To make the hole through which sap will flow, you’ll need a drill. The maximum is 4 taps per tree because you don’t want to stress the tree too much. The season usually lasts about a month to a month and a half is all and the most sap will flow earliest in the season. The sap turned into syrup from this tree is typically deemed just as sweet as the sap created by the Sugar Maple tree – and there is usually about twice as much of it. her homesteading skills are unmatched, she raises chickens, goats, horses, a wide variety of vegetables, not to mention she’s an expert is all sorts of homesteading skills such as hide tanning, doll making, tree tapping and many, many more. Anything under 21″ will only take one tap. NECESSARY EQUIPMENT FOR TREE TAPPING. above photo shows silver maple tree leaves. The sap from maple and most other tappable trees begins to flow when the temperature during the daytime is consistently above freezing, and when evening temperatures still hover at or below 32 degrees. We are enrolled in the Amazon Associates program, so we may earn a commission if you purchase something from Amazon after clicking one of our links. Whether you have an abundance of trees on your property or find a nice neighbor, it’s definitely worth giving a try to get some delicious, natural sugar. It will be a clear liquid that does not look all that much different from water. If the tree has a big “crown” or lots of full and sturdy branches in its mid-section, it might be a great sap producer. • Filtering Material – You can buy sap filters, but cheesecloth will do the trick just fine. Drill a level, horizontal 2’’ deep hole at a convenient height. Note: when done properly, tapping won’t harm your tree, and the hole you make will heal up nicely on its own. You should assume any link is an affiliate link. The differences are subtle, and the species has less to do with the … 2. Just when the weather starts the warm, but the ground is still snow covered and cold… that’s the perfect time for tapping trees for sap you can boil into syrup. Join our facebook group of over 13,000 like-minded individuals, where we learn about growing a garden, cooking a meal, and living life like our grandparents did. It’s that time of year again, fellow homesteaders… tree tapping time! The hole should be drilled at a slight upward angle to a depth of about 3 inches. above photo shows a sugar maple tree leaf. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. • English Walnut – If you have purchased walnuts to bake with or simply to munch upon from your local grocery store, they probably came from this variety of tree. It is best to distribute the tapping holes around the tree’s circumference when putting in a new season holes or making multiple tapping holes on a large tree for the first time. How to Tap Trees for Syrup. The leaves from hard maple trees are usually dark green with smooth points. Many tappers use a mixture of 1-part bleach (unscented) to 20 parts water to clean their equipment. A corded drill will work in a pinch, but it’s going to make use of a lot of drop cord unless you have electrical outlets next to your trees. The Plateau Native American tribes often tapped the Rocky Mountain Maple tree for sugar and syrup. Tapping maple trees can be a fun, rewarding experience. Always clean the tree tapping equipment when you put it away after a season and before tapping during a new season. The bark on hard maple tree varieties is typically filled with deep and narrow furrows. When to Tap Maple Trees for Sap. • Use tree tapping pouches like the ones in the photo below to keep debris and other impurities away from your sap. Wife, mama to three awesome farm girls, and passionate about helping others ditch the status quo to live more self sufficient lives, no matter where they live. Join The Self Sufficient Life group here. If the tree shavings have a dark brown hue, you have probably discovered a bad spot in the tree and need to locate the sap collection hole in another location on the same tree. Use a hammer to lightly tap the spile into the hole. This will then translate into a small amount of maple syrup per tree. Typically, this variety of maple tree will have a more watery or thinner sap and a low sugar content. How to Tap a Maple Tree A sugar maple is the most popular tree to tap due to the high concentration of sugars. The exact time to start and stop tapping trees for maple syrup depends largely on where you live. Simply hang your bucket and lid and move on to the next tree. Drink sap straight from the maple. Tapping maple trees is relatively straightforward, and it’s an activity the whole family can enjoy. You can run it through a cheesecloth or similar to remove any impurities that found their way in. You’ll want to check your buckets daily and empty any collected sap. Your email address will not be published. The size of the drill bit depends on the size of your tap (also known as a spile). This warming temps create pressure within the tree, which generates the flow of sap. You want your spile to fit tightly. But this will depend a lot on where you live. Tara lives on a 56 acres farm in the Appalachian Mountains, where she faces homesteading and farming challenges every single day. Black maple (Acer nigrum) Black maples produce as much sweet sap as sugar maples. The sweetest and best sap is usually produced during the early days and weeks of the season. As a child I experimented with tapping maple trees in Ontario Canada – usually during the first week of March. Since the leaves can’t help you identify the species this time of year, you’ll want to get a winter field guide like this one to identify which are maples if you aren’t familiar with the characteristics. If you use a bucket not manufactured for tapping trees, make sure it is a clean food-grade container that is capable of holding 5 gallons of sap. The most important step in the process of tapping a tree for maple is finding just the right tree. A strong and healthy tree can be tapped multiple times over several seasons. But, the most common trees used are sugar maples. No maple trees on your homestead? The Sugar Maple grows in significant numbers in USDA zones 4 through 8. You want to hit the xylem or sapwood of the tree. Hang your bucket or bag on the tree – this is usually done by hanging it onto the hook facing outward on the spout, but not all spouts and spiles come with a hook. The amount of sap that flows from this variety of walnut tree is also often comparable to the yield from the Sugar Maple tree. If you hit dark brown again, it may not be worth your time and effort to try to tap the tree. Lightly tap the spile into the hole. Typically, trees are prime for tapping between the middle of February through mid-March. Using a single tap could overtax the tree and could affect its health. The tell-tale sign that it’s time for tapping is when the daytime temps rise above freezing, but the nighttime temps dip back down below freezing. The European, black, river, gray, white, and yellow birch trees can also be tapped, but the sap they each produce is not generally nearly as sweet as the sap that flows from the Paper Birch tree. 6. Red and silver maple trees will also provide sap, but not as much as the other two species. • The sap must be stored at a temperature of 38F or colder for best results. The hole drilled should be between 2 to 2.5 inches deep. You might be hiking out to your trees up to your ankles in mud with rain pouring heavily upon your shoulders, but the sap buckets must be check and poured into a storage container. For trees 21-27″ in diameter, you’ll use two taps. They make these in metal and even plastic. You’ve found the trees, you have an idea of the timing. Keep in mind that it takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. For every increase of 2″ in diameter, you can add another tap. Inspect the shaving churned out while drilling the tapping hole. Whether you have 10 trees or 10,000 the process is basically the same: tap your trees, collect the sap, and boil it down until it’s reduced down to maple syrup. Why tap a maple tree? We’re growing our own food, cooking from scratch and taking steps toward self sufficient living on just an acre, and I think you can, too. Each produces a syrup with a slightly different flavor profile. plink! How to Tap a Maple Tree for Syrup & Sugar Production. The seedlings growing on them not only resemble the propellers of a helicopter, but “fly” away from the tree and start to grow just about everywhere they land. You’ll need: Cordless Drill and bit. 10 Essential Crops for a Self Sufficient Garden. We are the leading site for home based maple sugaring, the process of sap collection and making maple syrup. Sap will flow from this tree only when evening temperatures are firmly below the freezing level for at least one week. Unless you purchase a maple sugar starter kit like this one. You will take your drill and drill to the depth required by your spile, about 2 to 2 1/2″ deep. The maple tree tapping season generally runs for approximately four to six weeks. The height of your spile should be comfortable for you. If you’re placing more than one, you’ll want to divide them around the circumference of the tree. The tree needs some of that sap to produce buds and leaves. When you start tapping, you’re actually drilling a hole into the trunk of the tree with a power drill. This is usually around 3 feet. Now that I live up in Canada’s far north – (Northwest Territories), it’s a good month later – April. Thankfully, you can still purchase aluminum sap buckets and lids on Amazon or even at your local farm store. If the tree has damage, avoid those spots. We’ll be tapping birch trees this year as well, but it takes many more birches to get the same amount of syrup. The goal of Tap My Trees is to promote tapping maple trees by families at … You’ve got your trees identified, the weather is right, and you’ve gathered your supplies. No problem, there are more than one dozen other trees common to the United States that can also be tapped for syrup and sugar. For the safest type of consumption, always boil the sap to destroy any bad bacteria that could be growing inside. If you’re only placing one tap, you will want it on the south side of the tree. Tapping Maple Trees for Syrup (Acer Species) There are 10 different species of maple tree that can be tapped for syrup. • Holder or Hooks – Holders are sold to hang either buckets or bags and purchased by some tree tappers. Scrub the equipment with a firm brush and rinse, at least two to three times, with very hot water and allow them to air dry fully before storage or use. Everyone would go out around late February into March and tap maples for syrup. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Gently tap the spile into the tree with a hammer (do not pound the spile into the tree, as this may cause the wood to split). Drill the tapping hole. Tapping Tips. Tap My Trees is the #1 supplier of maple sugaring supplies for the hobbyist. Step 1: Measure the drill bit and wrap a piece of colored tape around it 3 inches from the end. Look for a maple tree that is at least 12 inches in diameter and has a lot of direct sunlight. • For best results, use or process the sap within one week of collection. If the tree has been tapped before, make sure you do not locate the hole within 6 inches from the prior sap collection spot. Basically what we’re using is just this orange actually it’s red bailing twine and we’re just going to take it and we’re going to identify a maple tree. But, that doesn’t mean the process isn’t worthwhile. Most tappers recommend drilling the tapping hole on the southern facing side of the tree, beneath a large branch. • Black – This maple tree generally offers the highest production of sap each season. The trees, maple and otherwise, that have average to above average sunlight exposure usually produce the most sap. Generally, a single tree can be tapped up to three times before you have to move on to another one. This variety of maple tree does not produce as much sap as the Sugar Maple, but is often considered just as sweet. These are, of course, to capture the sap. Make sure the tree is on your property! This gives the sap a chance to flow up during the day, and down at night. You could also get a maple tapping starter kit that has all of the specialty things you will need. You’ll insert the spile into the loop on the hook and pound it gently into place using a hammer. Its sugar content is approximately 2.0%. Hard maple tree leaves often appear to boast a “U” shape, and soft maple tree leaves have a shape than looks more like a “V” shape. Insert the spout after cleaning out the drilled hole of all shaving. Some of the reviews on this site may be compensated by the companies whose products were reviewed. You have to check the buckets and collect the sap daily – no matter how busy you are or what the weather is like outdoors. 4. Tap in the spout good and snug – … • Big Leaf – These maple trees are routinely found growing abundantly from California all the way up to British Columbia. It is the combination of the chilly night time temperatures and the warm daytime temperatures that causes the sap to flow both easily and fairly rapidly, from the trees. Refer to the directions that came with your particular spout or spiles to make sure it is positioned properly. Some days, your buckets might be almost overflowing when you hike out to check them, but other days you might find only a very small amount of sap in the bottom of the bucket or bag. If the tree measures 18”-24” two taps can be installed in the tree if the tree has a diameter greater than 24” then 3 taps can be installed in the tree. 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