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North Shore Permaculture Collaborative Message Board › Backyard maple sugaring

Backyard maple sugaring

Gloucester, MA
Post #: 35
Kate, can we store up a bunch of sap to boil up at the end of the run or domed need to boil it within a few days?
Gloucester, MA
Post #: 36
2 gallons from my one tree I have tapped as of this afternoon :)
A former member
Post #: 15
Wow, this is great!

There's no rush to boil as long as the temperatures remain cool enough to prevent the sap from spoiling. I think it's more a matter of volume and capacity. If you're running out of storage containers and have only a small space to boil, probably best to go for it soon. Otherwise, why not keep the taps in and see what you can get?

In our case, we're up to about 12 gallons of sap but we don't feel any pressure to start the evaporation process (although we're going to have to find new containers for the sap). I thought today was going to be a bust, but when I checked some of the trees several of the buckets had at least another couple of quarts of sap.

If we had an upward turn in the temps and it was suddenly 40+ for several days on end, we'd fire up the wood. But from what we see on the long-range forecast on, it looks like we have another high-low-high cycle ahead of us, which bodes well for more sap.

And speaking of temps....did anyone else have a crazy squall this afternoon? One minute it was sunny and all of a sudden the sky got black, the trees were swaying back and forth, and the temperature plunged.

Only in New England!
A former member
Post #: 195
My silver maple is messing with me again. The first two taps that I put in last week initially put out a lot of sap. The third one was put on the shady side and I had low expectations for that one. Today the first two containers still had only about a cup or so of sap and the third one was full. Huh?
I remember that the taps came out last week when I pulled the containers off one & two...I just hammered them back in. So today I removed the taps and reamed the holes a bit with the drill and put the taps back in. The sap started dripping in profusion. I'm still thinking about this event...
We have about 7 gallons at this point stored in glass growlers. I carved out two shelves in a snow bank on the east side to store them. It looks pretty cool! Ed's research found that the sap should be stored like milk...consider it to be similar in spoilage potential.
A former member
Post #: 16
Yeah, I'm having a hard time explaining some of our results, too. Maybe your third tap on the shady side is directly over a big root which isn't visible above ground. Or maybe there's a slope, and that tap is slightly higher (or lower) than the others.

I'm amazed at how much more our neighbor's trees are producing than our two. In just 3 days all four of the taps had produced 2 gallons each...almost overflowing. None of our trees have produced that much in such a short period. I'm thinking that perhaps it might have something to do with her trees being on level ground, and ours on a slope. Also, her trees are right out front, near the sidewalk, where perhaps they are picking up some radiant heat from the pavement. Hmmmm....

I'm also surprised that even with today's cold, there's sap running. One of my plastic jugs blew off, but fortunately the sap was all frozen so nothing spilled. smile Gotta pop something back in place just to make sure we don't miss a drop!

A former member
Post #: 196
Interesting about your neighbors tree near the sidewalk. I'm tapping two trees along our stone terrace. One is growing in the soil of the terrace, the other is on a higher level with roots behind a stone wall. I'll bet you can guess that the one with the sun-warmed stones by the roots is producing twice as much

The silver maple is back on track...I must have deformed the holes when the taps fell out last week. We got sap today too... about a gallon and half from this tree.

I forgot to allow for liquid freezing expansion in the glass jugs. Lost two last night in the snow bank storage area!crying

Another thing I'm pondering is whether the ice that forms in a semi-frozen jug should be saved to boil down. It really tastes like water, while the liquid part is sweet. Maybe the denser, sugary part separates like frozen fruit juice or milk does? Seems it would save some time and fuel to dump the ice and cook what's left.

Gloucester, MA
Post #: 37
Bummer about the loss to the freeze we had last night. I went for an adventure last night and bought a fermenting pail from someone to use as storage for my sap. It should hold about six gallons, which temporarily fixes my storage issue. No flow for me today, too cold. I hope to come up with something to use as an evaporator this weekend.
A former member
Post #: 17
Oh no! I feel your pain, Charlotte! When we spilled our sap last year, it reminded me of when my first child was born. I had a hell of a time breastfeeding and even when I used a pump almost nothing came out. It took forever for me to accumulate even an ounce, and so the Nursing Mothers advisor told me I could freeze whatever I got at any given time and build up a supply that way. day after weeks of my humiliating, relatively fruitless relationship with the pump, I decided there was enough to "top off" what was in the freezer. But when I went to the freezer, I couldn't find the container. In a panic, I called my husband (now my ex-husband) at work. After a long pause, he said, "I threw it out because I thought it wasn't any good." I wanted to kill him.angry

But I digress. I was wondering the same thing about the frozen vs unfrozen sap. Today I went to our neighbor's trees and the buckets were OVERFLOWING because a large portion of the sap had frozen and heaved upward, displacing the unfrozen portion. I took a huge butcher knife (looked like Jack Nicholson in "The Shining") and did my best to hack it into smaller chunks. Along the way I wondered whether this was a waste of time, and whether the hardest-frozen portion was pure water. Oh well...That's a question for the experts.

Devon, if you check Mass. Maple Producers there's a simple illustration of a cement block evaporator. Just space 4 or so blocks far enough apart for the wood, but close enough together so your pan can straddle the fire. The smoke stack is optional. Our book says a stack is desirable because it funnels the smoke away to prevent it from tainting the syrup. But we actually LOVED the kiss of smoke that our syrup had last year, so we're just sticking with the blocks.
A former member
Post #: 18
What a difference a year makes! I just checked our photos from last year to get a rough idea of when we started collecting and when we started boiling. Wow. The records show that we began on Feb. 21, which is exactly when we started this year. But by Feb. 21 last year we were at least 2 weeks behind everyone else in our area. This year, we put in a test tap on Feb. 19 and didn't have a single drop until Feb. 21.

We started boiling on March 8. Take a look at 2 photos taken of approximately the same spot in our yard. Hard to believe it's the same time, same place.

Photo #1 - March 8, 2010 - Amesbury MA

Photo #2 - March 5, 2011 (Today) - Amesbury, MA

PS - The chiminea in the background of photo #2 is new. The metal fire pit we used last year was so rusty that it collapsed under the weight of our sap pan. That's what caused the spill. crying
A former member
Post #: 198
Yeow, Kate- I was a bit upset at my broken sap bottles, but it was just one gallon and due to my miscalculation. I can just imagine how you felt about losing the breast milk!!shock

Well, I can picture you out there with the knife attacking the sap ice. I'm sure the neighbors enjoyed the show.tongue Mine get to watch some strange scenes too. I'll have to tell you about catching chickens sometime...

I decided to separate the ice from the liquid. The house plants got a nice treat of wild tree water. At this point I have 21 growlers full which = 10-1/2 gallons. Guestimating that might make enough syrup for a few pounds of maple cured bacon.

My neighbors who winter in Florida just gave the okay to tap their trees! This gives me the opportunity to try out a very low cost alternative to traditional taps. I'll report back on the details of my secret experiment once the results/ sap come in.

Btw The silver maple will be budding out pretty soon. I only expect to be able to continue with this tree for less than a week.

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