Thursday, February 28, 2013

First Maple Sugaring Season!

Today we tapped 12 trees in the back woods with 17 taps. This is our first season sugaring, and being complete newbies we decided to start small so we can learn our lessons and make mistakes on a small scale. Next year we will hopefully know what's what and can tap more extensively.

We are told that each tap generally produces 10-14 gallons of sap per season. With a total of 17 taps, this puts us at somewhere around 170-238 gallons of sap. It takes 50 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup, so if all goes well we are looking at about 3.5-5 gallons of maple syrup at the end of the season. Not enough to get rich, but enough to cover our pancake breakfasts for the next year :)

↓ First we gathered the proper accoutrements -- buckets, taps, tubing, a candy thermometer for sap boiling, felt sap filters, large boiling pots, etc. Most people use evaporators for the boiling down process. Maybe next year.
↓ Josh drilled holes in the buckets so we could run the sap tubing into them.

↓ Next we selected a few trees, and drilled holes for the taps.

↓ Taps were hammered into each hole.

↓ The taps started dripping moments after being inserted.

↓ Tubes were attached to the taps

↓ The other end of each tube was hooked up to the bucket for sap collection. Here's what our contraptions look like.

↓ Riley & Fern spent about ten seconds wondering what we were doing before turning their attention to more important things -- playing in the snow!

↓ Within a few minutes the tubes started to fill and drip into the bucket.

The hard part comes next when we will haul the buckets to the barn and spend hours boiling the sap in large pots we found at the flea market. We have no idea whether this is really going to work, but hey, we're giving it a shot! Stay tuned for updates on how we fare!

↓ Walking back to the house after tapping. The view from the woods was beautiful today. It was above freezing and the snow melt created a layer of fog that collected against the mountains.


  1. Gorgeous landscape and wonderful story. Can't wait to read about the end result!

  2. I had no idea you needed that much sap to make one gallon! Yikes!!!
    Does the tap affect the tree in any negative way? For example, if you tap a tree this year is it "tapped out" next year and you have to rotate? I assume that is where "tapped out" comes from...

  3. Dana, great question! As we understand it, when a tree is tapped, the taps only yield about 10% or less of the total sap in that tree. The sap is replenished pretty quickly within the tree, similar to the way a body can regenerate blood quickly after donating. Good thing! We definitely wouldn't want to adversely affect the trees just for some sugar :)