Maple Syrup Tapping Supplies
If you have a maple tree in your backyard, you might have thought of tapping the tree and making your own maple syrup -- and for good reason: real maple syrup is fairly expensive.
Without doing any harm to your tree, you can produce 10 to 20 gallons of sap per season -- this is with just one tree.
On the flip side, after all, is said and done, 10 - 20 gallons of sap is only enough to make about 1/3 gallon of maple syrup. While a third of a gallon isn't really a ton of syrup, you're still making your own syrup which is pretty cool. You'd literally be living off the fat (or sweetness) of the land. The process of making your own syrup can still be a lot of fun (and incredibly rewarding.)
In order to get started in making your maple syrup, you'll have to collect the sap. This might seem like a strange idea, but it's really quite easy -- with the right tools.
Did you know?
Maple syrup is only produced in North America.
Maple syrup is especially important to the eastern US and Canada (particularly Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.)
Harvesting Maple Sap
Written records date back to at least the mid-16th century when early European settlers observed Native Americans producing maple sugar. It is likely that maple sugar has been produced for much longer, though.
Harvesting the sap that maple syrup is produced from usually starts in February when temperatures become warm enough for the syrup to flow. The season usually ends in mid-April, when it is warm enough for tree buds to begin to appear.
Most maple syrup producers will only harvest from trees that are at least 10 to 12 inches in diameter when measured 4.5 feet high. Tap holes should be 1 to 2 inches deep when measured from the inside of the bark for the best syrup flow. You can either let gravity do the work or use a special vacuum to enhance it. Don't forget to put buckets under your taps to catch your syrup.
Make Your Own Maple Syrup
When done correctly, making your own maple syrup shouldn't harm your maple tree and can make a tasty treat to go with your pancakes. It also makes an economical way to enjoy homemade syrup on at least an annual basis if you worry about your budget but still get a serious sweet tooth sometimes. If you plan on selling your syrup, keep in mind that it must meet the grading standards of either the USDA or Canada and may be affected by the regulations of your state or province.
During the syrup production process, most of the water is boiled away, which is why you might be disappointed in the amount of actual syrup you get at first. Syrup producers can figure the amount of syrup they are going to get by calculating for 86 gallons of sap, divided by the percentage of the sugar content, for every gallon of maple syrup.
Which means that if the syrup is 2% sugar, they divide 86 by 2 to get 43 gallons of sap for every gallon of syrup. The exact amount can depend on what percentage of sugar you want the syrup to contain when you are finished.