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Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by bob clark, Jan 4, 2006.
We tap a few soft maples in addition to sugar maples for maple syrup.
The primary difference is the sugar content.
The sugar maples will test out about 4% while the soft maples average more like 2%.
You can get almost twice as much syrup per gallon of sap, from the sugar maples, as you can from the soft maples.
One mistake people tend to make when cooking down syrup is to go by color, not by the numbers. I test mine by temperature; when it's hot enough, its done.
The best instructional guide I got was one from the county extension service.
I have had dark brown box elder syrup that was dreadful, strong-tasting stuff, and pale box elder syrup that was delicate, mapley, and delicious. I always wondered if the box elder stuff was naturally a paler syrup.
I tapped one soft maple last year, it had plenty of sap, and tasted very sweet. I added it to my sugar maple sap.
We had very little sap last spring, but it cooked down to lots and lots of syrup. Sold some, gave some away, and still have some. Great stuff!
I'd say if you have that itch to tap and you have some soft maples just standing there, boy, go for it and have fun!!!
The natives around here would tap everything from birch to elm. The best sugar producers that I've had were the ugliest looking trees. The tall straight
growing pretty trees that I've got aren't as good for sugar content. I love the light syrup best.
not to sound too stupid but what would make a good homemade maple tap? i am just getting in to this. i bought half inch black iron pipe nipples. i bought them too big, lol, i got half inch inner diameter and wanted 1/2 on the outer diameter. i was in a hurry at the hardware store. maybe for next year i will buy some taps but for now i think i will use iron pipe and hang buckets on the elbow i install.
a question on finishing for the season... are the taps removed and holes plugged or not plugged?
I made some from wood. I just drilled a hole going with the grain in about a 3 inch piece of clear wood, Then sharpened one end to tap in the hole in the tree. I did'nt hang my bucket from them I just tied them to the tree where they would hang in the right spot. They worked just fine .
As cheap as taps are on ebay, why not just buy em there?
Taps are removed at the end of sap season-----holes NOT plugged.
Our very first taps were made from an old lawn chair.
We sawed those aluminum legs into 4 inch pieces and tapped trees.
They work fine but not as well as REAL taps.
That was 30 years ago---nowadays there's probably be controversy over the use of aluminum.
I asked the same question Re: Aluminum, but I don't think there would be much to worry about, since you aren't heating and scraping the aluminum.
Over the years we have tapped both the sugar maples and the soft maples. The years we just tap the sugar maples, we get a little prettier syrup with less cooking. We go by temperature as well. I start it outside and when it gets close to done, bring it in a finish it on the woodstove where I can watch it carefully. For my own use I wouldn't hesitate to use the soft maples, but I don't think I would want to market it as it really doesn't have the richness of color.
my question about removing the taps may sound kinda silly. sometimes the most basic info is assumed to be known and not provided. i visited about seven to ten maple tree/ maple syrup making sites and did not encounter the topic at all. i assumed that the taps were to be removed and the holes most likely left to heal on their own. i wanted to hear it from someone.
in my research, i heard that birch trees are sometimes tapped as well. i heard that some types of birch may be poisonous. i would just recommend thorough research before eating anything you are unsure of.
oops...that last paragraph was for another thread... :shrug:
Spiles can be made from elderberry stems as they are easy to hollow out. We used them one year but real spiles are best. You can read about using elderberry in Euell Gibbons book "Stalking the Wild Asparagus".
Sumac twigs can also be used for taps, hollow them out with a thick heated wire. I have not tried this myself, but read about it in a memoir of country living. That man also extolled birch beer, made from sap. Said it made for a pretty mean drunk, though. Norwegian tequila!
"Wanta get yer eye knocked out, wanna get yer fill
Wanta get yer head cut off just go up sugar hill!"
-Sugar Hill, trad.
Sort of off topic, but could someone PM me a link to directions on cooking down the sap into syrup. I've never tried it, but would like to try it.
this gives a little cooking info.
i had to refresh it to get it to work for me.
oh yeah, i didn't buy taps on ebay, i was going to...lol, because i was in a hurry. i was on my way to the hardware store for my weekly visit and thought i would try black iron pipe because it was cheap.
get about 40 t0 60 gallons of sap and boil it down to a gallon. You need to know how high above sea level that you are or you can boil water and check the temp and adjust the boiling temp of the syrup accordingly. Birch trees are not poisonous. Elderberry wood and sumac wood is poisonous. If you burn out the pith, don't breathe it in. Don't plug the holes when done. You should clean out the bole with a bleach water mix, at a ratio of 20 to 1. That kills the bacteria but not the tree. If you finish off the syrup indoors you might get that sticky feeling on the walls. Check with the co-operative extension office and they'll have good info.
Woodspirit, the link above says to a boiling point of 219 F., what adjustment would you make at 730 ft. above sea level?
here is another link. this person says to boil the syrup until it is 5 or 6 degrees above the boiling point of water for your area.
another website gave instructions that focused on the viscosity of the syrup. using the same device that measures wine density. it mentioned 66-67 degrees BRIX. so if you are a professional chef and understand all that...lol.
let me know how you make out as i am trying to make some too.
i finally tapped a red maple and a sugar maple. i could not wait to try to make some syrup so i collected maybe a quart or half gallon and cooked it down in a sauce pan. took about an hour or maybe less. i got about an ounce or two of some nice light tasting syrup. i was amazed because it was my first time. this has been a very rewarding experience and i would recommend that everyone who can should tap some trees and make a little syrup.
i cannot wait to try the sugar maple.