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Lawn & Garden

How to Tap a Tree For Maple Syrup


When one has a lot of land, they tend to learn to utilize its resources like collecting firewood from fallen trees and branches, to growing a big garden or planting fruit trees. As a land owner with 24 acres in the south, with an abundance of wooded land, I look for all possible avenues when it comes to land utilization.


With an abundance of maple trees, it struck my curiosity as to the possibilities of tapping these trees for maple syrup production. After days of research here is what I discovered. Canada is one of the top producers of maple syrup for good reason. Their climate and abundance of large, healthy maple trees give them an advantage with prolonged time to harvest the sap from the trees. Where I may not be ready to tap my red maple here in Georgia, I will certainly go down the road to my brothers and stick a tap into his big sugar maple when he goes to work. Just kidding, this is my red maple in my front yard here in Georgia.


Maple syrup production requires a lot of time and patience and, after my research, you would think that it requires living in the Northern United States or Canada. I found that this is not the case. Where as you may get better results up north, with access to some healthy maples here in the south, I was amazed with the results I got from the one healthy maple tree I tapped.


What Kind Of Maple Am I Looking For?


Sugar maples and black maples are the best producers but red maples and silver maples produce as well.






When Do I Install My Tap?



Temperatures below freezing at night but around 45 degrees during the day are the ideal time of season to collect sap from the trees. This is when the sap reserves that a tree has stored are flowing and ready to be collected. Once day temperatures start going above 45 to 50 degrees, it is time to remove the tap.



What You'll Need to Get This Job Done:


1/2 inch X 3/8 inch reducer coupling (your tap)


5/16 inch drill bit


1/2 inch ID clear hose


5 gallon Homer bucket and lid




1 maple tree at least 12 inches wide


Cordless drill





Installing Your Tap



Once you have found your tree, you will want to find the south side of the tree. This is the side getting the most sun; therefore, this side is probably moving sap quicker than the North side. 1 tap can go on a tree that is 12 to 20 inches wide, 2 taps for a tree 21 to 27 inches wide and 3 taps for trees over 28 inches wide. Trees with a larger canopy are better producers.




Place the tap 3 foot from the ground and just below a large branch and above a large root for best results. To do this, install your 5/16 inch drill bit in the drill and get ready to drill in your designated spot. You will not want to drill in at a 90 degree angle; instead you will want to angle up just a little to allow sap to run down from your tap and hose, into your bucket. You will drill 2 ½ inches into the tree. Mark this on the drill bit so you will know your depth. Get your hammer and tap the 3/8 side into the tree.





You will know that you are in the right part of the season because you will see sap, which resembles water, dripping out immediately. Connect the 1/2 inch hose to the coupling and run the hose through a hole that you put in the lid of the bucket. Put your bucket below for collection, slightly tilted so rain water or snow melt won’t go into the hole, but rather run off the top of the lid.






Continue to check on your bucket periodically. If temperatures get above 38 degrees, get the sap that has been collected and refrigerate it while the bucket continues to fill up. Sap or syrup can go bad, like milk, if left out in too high of temperatures for too long. If there is snow on the ground, just bury the bucket in snow and leave it.



Reducing Your Sap Into Syrup



Boiling down your sap to a consistency of syrup can take quite some time and become a time consuming ordeal. Trying to reduce 20 gallons of sap in the house can become quite a test of one’s patience. As your boiling pot reduces down, you can pour more into it until there is nothing else to add to it. Most people reduce it over a campfire made of bricks, metal grates and firewood to start out. You may find that most of your day will consist of throwing another log on the fire. Use cheese cloth to filter out impurities from your syrup while it is boiling hot. Trying to reduce 20 gallons of sap inside could possibly have the wall paper peeling off the walls.



Once it has been reduced to a manageable level, it is brought inside and finished on the stove. Have some friends come over to spend the day because if you think a watched pot never boils, try watching a 20 gallon pot full of sap! Remember, the more surface area the pot has the faster the evaporation.



As the sap gets closer to the consistency and color of maple syrup, taste it every now and then until it is exactly where you want it. If you find yourself wanting to do this year after year, this might be a good investment. You can cook food, stay warm and reduce your nectar all at the same time with this grill/ firepit. I bought everything for this except the hammer, drill or firepit and I spent around $18. Each additional tree should cost less than $10 now.



Other related articles:

Which fruit trees are self pollinating and which require a cross pollinator?

How to Grow Almond Trees

Tips for Growing Pecan Trees in the South

Ingar’s Top 10 Trees for a Landscape in the South.

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Posted 2015-02-08T15:46:31+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL Ingar_HD_ATL
Great family project to do with the kids!
Posted 2015-02-09T01:48:51+0000  by Cree

Update on the tapping of the Maple.

In the first 10 hours after tapping the Red maple, I got 1 gallon of sap. The sap looked and tasted very much like water. After all the research, this is what I was led to believe would be the case, so it was no big surprise. It seemed that the tree slowed production once the temperatures increased but started to produce slowly again once temperatures dipped below freezing.

Knowing that one gallon reduced was going to give me less than half a cup of syrup did not deter me, as I only really need about about 1/3 of a cup for breakfast. So the reducing process begins. Once it was at a rolling boil, I filtered out any impurities by filtering it through coffee filters and continued with the reduction.

Hours go by of patiently waiting.

The more it reduced towards the end, the sweet taste of maple syrup started to appear and once we were down to about 3 cups, you could start seeing the color and taste come into the picture. The more it reduced, the sweeter it got. I stopped reducing at 1/3 of a cup because the taste was perfect and it gave me just enough for breakfast.

Posted 2015-02-15T16:46:53+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL

The first batch of syrup was perfect. I cooked breakfast and the syrup tasted amazing. The first batch made about 1/2 of a cup and came from 1 gallon of maple sap. I boiled down the second batch from just over 2 gallons of sap and I got just over 1 cup. I boiled it down further than the first batch which gave it a sweeter taste and a darker color. I currently have 2 gallons in the bucket now, waiting for me to cook when I get home.

I have discovered why maple syrup is so expensive. It is a slow process that will not make you rich. At the same time, as a person with little patience, I really enjoy doing this and have found that this and fishing are the only 2 things that I can do that yield little results over long periods of time that I am perfectly fine with.

Posted 2015-02-22T15:53:50+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL
Greetings Ingar,

I am in total awe of your tapping post!  I never knew it took that long, or that it took so much raw sap to create what we all are accustomed to pouring on our pancakes.

I will never question the price for pure maple syrup again!

Great informative, and delicious post, the aroma in the house must have been amazing during the process.
Posted 2015-03-05T16:13:43+0000  by Maureen_HD_BOS
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