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Maple Tapping Season Pt. 1: Spile-Making Workshop

  • Feb 9, 2013 · 7:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

We're going to make spiles! These wonderful objects are basically just hollow tubes that conduct tree sap from the phloem down into your bucket.

The way I've seen it done is by taking a heated metal rod (1/4" - 1/2" diameter, at least a foot long ideally) and running it through the soft yellow pith of branches from small sumac trees. I have some I collected from around my parents' place back in Newtown, PA this past winter holiday. These are staghorn sumac, but I believe the smooth sumac more common to this area should work just fine, too. Then you whittle one end down a half an inch or an inch, something like that, and then carve out a small notch on the other end - for your bucket to rest on, once you've driven the spile into the trunk. Feel free to bring your own pocket knives, metal rods, sumac branches, whatnot, but I'll bring what I have!

Once we've got these made, then we can start tapping. Sugar maples, planetrees (sycamores), you name it! Many thanks to Jennifer for hosting this, and I hope to see you all there!

Joshua

**UPDATE**: Apparently it is the xylem itself - not the phloem - that is responsible for this sweetness, for supplying this boost of energy to the budding parts of the plant, at a time of year when sugars are not really so much being produced through photosynthesis in the leaves. This makes total sense, it's simply contrary to the basic truism one learns about the biology of plants, which is awesome! Thanks, Fred!

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  • Gene W.

    Actually a lot of fun and informative

    February 10, 2013

  • Lisa S.

    Great workshop. We're wondering which neighbors to approach about borrowing their trees. It appears the sap must be stored below 38° for no more than seven days before boiling so we're also in search of refrigerator space in case we hit it big.

    February 10, 2013

  • Jennifer W.

    Thanks for coming everyone, and thanks for sharing your knowledge and food! Thanks to Josh for organizing!

    February 10, 2013

  • Heather

    We had a great time! Hoping for Part 2! Guerrilla tree-tapping in the city is just what we need. We'll bring ladders and go out at night. It will be all good.

    February 10, 2013

  • Martha

    Glad to meet you all. Here's a little info on the history of maple syrup.
    Thanks Jennifer for the hospitality and to all who made goodies for us to share.
    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1891523,00.html
    peace.
    martha

    February 10, 2013

  • Josh H.

    I'm heading up now with a disassembled ring stand and a bunch of sumac branch pieces. A couple other things too. If for some reason I don't make it on time, you can drop me a line at[masked]

    February 9, 2013

  • Whitney

    wish i could be there!

    February 8, 2013

  • Jennifer W.

    FYI, we will have a bonfire going. Feel free to bring food, drinks, etc. You can also check out our chicken coop and run set up. (We can also go inside if it gets too cold outside.) Looking forward to it!

    1 · February 7, 2013

  • Josh H.

    There used to be a bunch of smooth sumac up in Ravenswood by the American Indian Center. Maybe we can see if one works better than the other, but I think they'll both work well!

    February 4, 2013

    • Josh H.

      (oh also it's the xylem, not the phloem, that's got what we're looking for, at least in maples...phloem is sweet because it carries the byproducts of photosynthesis, for which I guess A. there isn't much of a shelf life and B. there's no capacity in the wintertime...thanks Fred Kittelmann!)

      February 6, 2013

    • Josh H.

      (so in the late winter the xylem gets things started back up again and so, unusually, carries sugar and minerals from the roots all the way up into the buds)

      February 6, 2013

  • Heather

    Bringing a 10 year old and a 5 year old if that is ok. The ten year old is very interested - the 5 year old is just along for the ride! I was only able to rsvp 2 guests but it will be 4 of us including the kids.

    1 · February 5, 2013

  • Nessie

    Great idea! Wish i could make it

    February 4, 2013

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