How to Tap Maple Trees

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Once mid-February rolls around and the daytime temperatures are in the 40s, it's time to start tapping maple trees and gather the sap that ,after a little refining, becomes that delectable syrup that tastes good in and on everything from pancakes to chicken wings. No matter where you like to pour it, it simply doesn't taste as good as when you've tapped it yourself. If you love homemade syrup but have never tapped a maple tree, then this how-to is for you.

Things You'll Need

  • Bright ribbon 7/16-inch drill bit Spouts Sap "Sak" bags, metal buckets with covers or plastic Pails Turkey fryer base Large metal pan - food grade Hand-held food strainer Propane tank Canning jars
  • Mark the maple trees that you plan on tapping with a piece of bright ribbon; that way you can easily locate them once you are ready to tap the trees.

  • Use a 7/16-inch drill bit to drill a hole 2 to 2 1/2 inches into the tree trunk at a slight upward angle to allow the sap to drain into a sap-gathering receptacle.

  • Attach your sap-gathering receptacle to the tree. You can use sap "Sak" bags, metal buckets with covers or roofs, or plastic buckets that you can purchase at any home and garden store. All of these materials are also available at several websites.

  • Empty the collected sap into a food-grade pan.

  • Boil down the sap until all of the water has evaporated. Watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. You can use a turkey fryer base and pan to do this if you do not have access to professional maple syrup equipment.

  • Once the syrup is boiled down and has reached about 219 degrees, it is ready to be strained to remove the minerals and nutrients, otherwise known as "sugar sand," that have gathered. If the "sugar sand" is not removed, the syrup will remain cloudy looking.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use your homemade maple syrup to top pancakes, to baste on barbecued chicken wings, to add into pecan butter or to dip sausage in.
  • Be careful around the boiling sap. Do not let young children around it. Contact with the contents could cause severe burns.

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