Maple tapping is something we’ve wanted to do for a very long time, not just because we love maple syrup or have a bunch of maple trees. We genuinely thought it sounded like fun! So when I unwrapped a maple tapping kit this Christmas I was ecstatic! I could not wait to try it, so- on to the computer, I hopped researching and reading everything I could get my hands on. I typed in “Maple tapping”, “How to tap your maple trees” and “When to tap your trees in Tennessee” in the search bar and did more reading until I was finally confident I would mess things up and had a pretty good grasp of when and how to do this (I tend to over think things).
Step 1: Identify Your Target -The Maple Trees-
We already knew which trees were maples so we skipped the identification stage, over the years as we added trees and other plants we drew a map of where things were and what they were. Making the first step a breeze. Many types of maples can be tapped (not just sugar maples) the most common are silver, red and black maples. Trees should be at least 12 inches around and healthy.
Step 2: -Supplies-
We already had a kit (you can find the one we bought here) so we stopped by our local home away from home (not to be confused with Hobby Lobby) that’s right Lowes and picked up 1-gallon food grade buckets and lids. (We realized later we could have used gallon water jugs for this). Our kit came with ten spiles (also called taps) so we bought 10 1-gallon buckets and a 5-gallon bucket to pour it in.
|Spile or Tap|
What we used:
10 1-Gallon Buckets
1 5-Gallon Bucket
5/16th Drill Bit
Electric Drill (cordless would be easiest but if you are impatient like me and don’t want to wait for the battery to charge you can use a corded one like we did)
Our tapping kit came with hoses, so we drilled a hole just big enough for the tube to be inserted in each lid. The easiest way to get the hoses in is to dip the ends in hot water for several seconds and then insert that way they are softer.
Related Article: Making Butter In 7 Easy Steps
Step 3 -Charge!-
Drill into the tree using the 5/16ths drill bit at a slightly upward angle, you are going to want to go in about an inch past the bark into the white wood (eye protection is recommended- I have a feeling they would frown at my use of sunglasses for this job).
Insert the smooth end of the spile into the hole you just drilled and gently tap with a hammer, loose is better than tight in this scenario because you are going to need to take it back out after the sap flow has slowed down or the tree buds out (after this point the sap will taste funny and not make good syrup).
If you haven’t done so already (ahem! We took our own root and attached them when we were preparing the buckets, connect the tubing to the spile (again hot water will help with this). Secure buckets to the tree, we simply tied it with twine.
Related Article: Making Jack Cheese
Ok, I admit it I’ve been checking the buckets like crazy the last few days (you only need to check it a couple times a day). The best days for collecting is when the high is between 50-60 degrees and the low between 20-30 degrees. This causes the sap to rise to the top of the tree while it is warm, and return to the bottom when it is cold. It will take around 6 gallons (yes you read that right) to make 1 quart of syrup.
This article contains affiliate links. Affiliate links cost you nothing extra but help to support the Rosevine Cottage Girls so we can continue bringing you recipes, travel posts, garden and farm posts and so much more.