North Shore Permaculture Group Message Board › Backyard maple sugaring

Backyard maple sugaring

Boiester
Boiesterest
Amesbury, MA
Post #: 55
I saw that they are tapping the maples at Sparhawk School. I have one old maple on my street we're going to have to cut down. I need a tap and bucket. I guess I'll go to Topsfield Agway. Seems so far for this! With the bees, the sap and the seed starting next week for the Edible Garden Group meeting, I think my spirits have improved! biggrin
Devon
mouseydew
Gloucester, MA
Post #: 64
Think I might wait until Sunday after the rain passes. Will keep posting updates.
A former member
Post #: 32
Hi Deb...you can get taps at Dodge's Agway on Route 1 (Hampton? Hampton Falls?). And don't waste money on a bucket. Just get an empty gallon-size milk jug and cut an X in the neck right near the handle. You can hook the jug onto the tap at the X. Be sure to put the lid on the jug. The advantages of this system are (a) you can see the sap level as it rises, and (b) the lid prevents precipitation from getting in. (I will post a how-to photo as soon as I locate a jug!)

We were planning to tap today, but will wait until after the storm. Maybe we'll just gather all our equipment and have it ready so that we can assemble our mini "sugar shack" on Monday.
Devon
mouseydew
Gloucester, MA
Post #: 66
I started a tap in my red maple midday Monday. Ended up with a gallon after a day and a half. Think I might also tap a Norway maple this year to experiment. Hoping to have enough to warrant canning some. Kate, have you measured sugar content in the past or just boil to a certain temp?
A former member
Post #: 34
We just boil. I have a digital thermometer and I set it for 5 degrees above boiling. It beeps when the temp. is within a couple of degrees of the mark. Also, I have a little trick: Once the saps reaches the boiling point, I keep a small glass jar next to the pot. I scoop out about a tablespoon of sap and put it in the jar. Then I swirl it around the jar like I'm swirling a glass of wine. There is a distinct change in the "sheeting" that occurs as the sap gets closer to being syrup. If it isn't ready, there won't be any sheeting at all; the sap will just drip straight back to the bottom of the jar. But the viscosity changes as you get closer to the magic moment.

I also keep an eye on the sheeting action as the sap in the jar cools. ALL sap will appear pretty thin when it's wicked hot. But the cooled-down sap will coat the sides of the jar and take longer to drip down. I know this isn't very scientific, but it's a pretty good indicator of how close it is to being ready. Also, it's good to know how to train the naked eye to notice the subtle changes.

The important thing to remember is that you want to keep doing the jar test every 5 minutes because things can change on a dime.

PS - I think I already made a post about my other trick using bamboo skewers to mark the original level of sap in the pot as well as the target level (based on the 40:1 ratio). If I don't see it on the board, I'll re-post.
Devon
mouseydew
Gloucester, MA
Post #: 67
"By the way, although it's hard to envision this now, one of the big challenges is how to keep your sap from getting too warm. I remember last year that we were still getting sap into mid-March, and suddenly our "walk-in refrigerator" (alias "the garage") was no longer cool. We were afraid the sap would spoil, so that's when we started boiling it." (Kate)

Kate, how long was the oldest of the sap before you did your first boil? So far, I have about a gallon and a half in my fridge. So far, hat I could gather from online resources, you boil within a week of the sap leaving the tree.
A former member
Post #: 35
I'd say 2 weeks, maybe a bit more. I would definitely encourage you to keep collecting because you need 40 gallons of sap to get one gallon of syrup. Working backgrounds, this means 5 gallons would give you about a pint; 2.5 gallons would give you one cup. The sap isn't going to spoil if it's in the fridge, or outdoors buried in the snow AND OUT OF SUNLIGHT. We kept some of our tubs outdoors in a shady corner of the yard, covered with a blanket and then with a tarp. (Don't use a tarp by itself, because the plastic can heat up and radiate to your containers.)

I'm sure that commercial syrup makers boil daily, but we don't have enough free time to do it in batches. This will be our 4th year, and so far nobody has complained or died from our bottling efforts. smile
Boiester
Boiesterest
Amesbury, MA
Post #: 56
Yesterday's taps (3) resulted in 1 bucket almost filled today, 1 bucket on it's way and 1 bucket (milk jug) fell off! I'm contributing mine to Kate and David for boiling. Will do some transfer today into my 10 gallon holding tank.

D
A former member
Post #: 36
Oh no! I hope there wasn't too much sap in the jug. How about if I come over and pick up the sap and I can show you how to wire the jug on so it stays put?
Devon
mouseydew
Gloucester, MA
Post #: 68
Yesterday's taps (3) resulted in 1 bucket almost filled today, 1 bucket on it's way and 1 bucket (milk jug) fell off! I'm contributing mine to Kate and David for boiling. Will do some transfer today into my 10 gallon holding tank.

D

Wow! I had absolutely no flow yesterday and the day before I got about 1/3 gallon from my two trees combined.
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