Maple Syrup Tapping

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Mike in Pa, Jan 22, 2004.

  1. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    Anyone here know about tapping Maples? I'm trying to make (spiles?) taps. Used 1/2" CPVC first but the OD was 9/16 and I was told it was too big. Used dial rod next ... OK but not sure. They might have glue in them or be treated somehow ... bought at Lowes. Might try to make out of branches. Any certain type better than another?
    I'd like to get some aluminum tubing but can't find any.
    Thanks! Mike
     
  2. Rita

    Rita Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi, We have bought the metal spiles but in the past have used elderberry stems. Push the pith out of approx. 4 inch pieces and cut a notch in the part that sticks out to hold a bucket. We use milk jugs with a hole cut in the handle part. We only have red maples but it's very good syrup and lots of fun.
     

  3. Steve in Ohio

    Steve in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    I use 1/4 in. stainless steel tubing (1/4in. O.D.) and about 4in. long.We then use a uv stable rubber like tubing slid over the stainless tubing and then run the tubing into a 2 gal. pastic pail that sets right on the ground.The 2 gal pails have lids on them with holes drilled for the rubber tubing to fit into,helps keep dirt and sticks out of the sap.In a good year those pails have to be dumped every day.
    The trees I tap are 12in. and larger with at least two taps per tree.Each afternoon I take the 4-wheeler with a plastic tank on the back and collect the sap.Once we start to boil off the sap I don't quit till its done............sometimes clear through a weekend.
     
  4. I've used 1/2" copper pipe with connectors to vinyl hose so I can run the 3 taps on my only (but very large - 30" trunk) sugar maple to a single 5 gallon bucket collector. 7/16" bit and it's a good fit. I've been using this setup for 5 years. The 5 gallon collector is nice because I can't be home all day to empty it and have had a few days when the bucket was nearly full! With 1 gallon collectors, I would have lost 2 gals! Great fun and yet another way to provide a better product from MY property. My EX thought I was crazy, but my thought was "the tree is already there". Yeah, I don't get a lot of syrup,and it is some time to cook it down - but what else is there to do in early spring. Last year I did get enough to last the whole year, still got some left. And nothing beats the feeling when my kids LOVE Daddy's syrup!
     
  5. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    Steve, or anyone else that cares to answer,
    Does that mean you don't boil it off dailey or every other day? Can it sit for a couple weeks before boiling it down? Need refrigeration?
     
  6. cc-rider

    cc-rider Baroness of TisaWee Farm Supporter

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    'Nother question..... WHEN do you start tapping trees? I'm in zone 5. Ohio.
     
  7. Steve in Ohio

    Steve in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Mike,
    The reason I don't leave the sap is because the color changes if you let the sap cool and then reheat it the next day.Not that it's a big deal if you use it yourself but in our case we sell some and color is very important for our market.
    I like to collect about 60-80 gals of raw sap before we start to boil any off.Thats about all I can handle at one time the way I'm set up at the current time.Right now it's more of a hobby type thing but I really enjoy working with the syrup making process..........the smell of the sap boiling off on a cold evening is awesome..............the smell of the woods on a 30 deg.day...
    As long as the temps. stay in the 30s I don't worry to much about storing the raw sap but if out door temps goes up like into the 50's I start the boiling process right quick like.......
    CC
    Here in Southern Ohio we start tapping when the day time temps. go above freezing but the nights are still below 32 deg. in a normal year that would be the end of Feb. around these parts..............

    Just finished feeding the animals and bring up some fire wood........is it like stupid cold out tonight or what????????????...........................
     
  8. Swampdweller

    Swampdweller Well-Known Member

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    Sap will begin to ferment within a day or two IF not kept below 35-40 degrees.
    If you want to store up a batch to boil all at once, the more sap you have in your storage tank, and the more you keep it out of the sun, the longer it will keep.

    Start tapping when the days are consistantly above freezing, and the nights freeze hard. You should have about 6 weeks before the tree begins to seal off the flow on the tap.
    For the red maple, pull the taps when they seal over, or when the syrup starts to smell and taste a bit off. This is "bud syrup", and it has a foul taste. It CAN, however, be used for cooking with no adverse affects.
    Hard maples put out sap later into the season without going buddy. Tap your reds early, then tap your sugar maples to extend your season.
    Always keep a couple gallons of sap cold so you can calm the boil in case you get caught off guard. Fresh sap boils real slow. But the closer it gets to finish (approx. 219 degrees F) the wilder it boils.

    I take my syrup to 217 or so in the main boiler, then draw it off and finish in the house in a smaller pan with a smaller fire :cool:
    Another trick I've learned is to pour the finished syrup into gallon jars and let the sediment settle to the bottom. This saves a multitude of filters and hours of filtering. Pour the clear syrup off and give the sediment to the livestock.
    They'll love you for it.


    Swampdweller
     
  9. tallpines

    tallpines Well-Known Member

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    Taps----before we got REAL taps, we'd cut up the frame of an old aluminum lawn chair....cut it into 3 inch pieces and washed it up.
    They worked, but it was nice to get the real taps which are tapered.

    Our family's been tapping this 40 acre woods for 100 years now.
     
  10. Oregonsparkie

    Oregonsparkie Well-Known Member

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    Fermented maple syrup... now ur talkin'
     
  11. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah-speaking of which-has anyone ever thought about boiling down the sap a bit to condense the flavors, but not enough to make syrup, and then fermenting it? Lots of sugar in there to make some stiff drink if you got the right yeast in there...
     
  12. tallpines

    tallpines Well-Known Member

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    We had a fellow use some of our sap to brew some beer----------used sap in place of the water.

    Something made it go bad on him but he will be trying a new batch this spring.
     
  13. farmy

    farmy Well-Known Member

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    Spiles - We make ours out of pithed-out sumac. Pretty simple.
     
  14. sugarspinner

    sugarspinner Well-Known Member

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    The old fashioned answer to when to tap is "when the snow goes soft on the south side of the barn." Actually, when the nights are in the 20's and the days in the 40's is good. And, stop as soon as the buds begin to swell on your sugar trees because any syrup after that will be what is known in the industry as "buddy" syrup and quite unpalatable.

    Yes, the sap will begin to ferment quickly if held at above freezing temperatures for more than a day or so. You'll notice a yeasty smell. That can still be cooked but the resultant syrup will be darker and a bit stronger. Later season, cloudy sap brings the same results.

    Elder stems will work for spilesf. I'd certainly think pieces of aluminum lawn chairs would be too big even for a "make-do" project. The real spiles cost around $1.25-1.75 apiece but will last forever. If you have any producers near you, see if they have any old spiles to sell. We're always supplying small, start-up operators around here with old spiles. Something to remember when you're fashioning make-do spiles is that you're catching the sap as it comes up, so be sure the spile is open to get that.

    Something else to know is that the boiling point changes according to the barometric pressure so you really need to check it in boiling water before cooking each day and if there's a weather change. Then cook the sap to 7 1/2 degrees above the boiling point. Any more and it may sugar; any less and it may ferment. Then can it at 190 degrees, invert the jar for a minute or so to be sure the top is sterilized and hot and you should be all set.

    And remember, the secret to good syrup is clean, clean, clean. But don't use soap because it won't rinse clean and will flavor your syrup. Use lots of really hot water. Lots of water. Lots.

    Have a good season.
     
  15. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. I just bought aluminum, plastic and S/S spouts ... tried a few of each. I'll also try some "hand carved" spouts made from ash and oak branches (drilled out the center) just for fun.
     
  16. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    HAS ANYONE EVER USED THE "MICRO" SPOUTS?? The 5/16" ones? This is a finny one but I'm not positive which end to pound into the tree!! :haha:
     
  17. sugarspinner

    sugarspinner Well-Known Member

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    Mike, Several companies make the micro-spout. To my knowledge, these are all for tubing only. Most research is going with tubing now, not buckets, because the buckets are so labor-intensive, mostly. And, you can, with good management and a lot of expensive pumps, etc., get more sap with tubing. The idea is that there is less damage to the tree with the micros. There's a nasty rumor going 'round that you can tap smaller trees but don't do it because that's a "cooking the goose that layed the golden egg" dealy; you'll damage your immature tree.

    Okay, CDL makes an L-shaped micro in metal and, I believe, in plastic. With this one the barbed end goes into the tubing, the other end into the tree. You can see how the plastic tubing will fit over the barbed or concentric-circled end. There's one from Dominion Grimm that is straight. With this the tapered end goes into the tree. I'm not familiar with others (actually, not too familiar with any of them :) ) but generally, the tapered end, if it isn't barbed to hold on plastic tubing, goes into the tree. There should probably be a small hole on the "down" side of the end that goes into the tree. Does that help?
     
  18. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    Well, this has a "trough" at one end and a "hole" at the other end. Both sides looked like they could accept tubing. It has a small barb on one end and a big barb around the middle. Might be for extraction. I obviously don't need a pump with the micros right? I planned on getting tubing and running it into a bucket on the ground. I have plastic micros too ... they're easy. The one end is easy to see it's to hold slip-on tubing.

    I bought from bascom maple in NH. DO NOT BUY THERE!!! They have bad customer service and overcharged my CC for shipping. It was only 1.00 but that's not the point. They crossed out the amount I agreed to by hand and rewrote a higher price ... that I didn't agree to. I caught this when they delivered ... they didn't tell me. It was sent ups .. I looked at the USPS web site ... shipping there would have been 3.00 cheaper.
     
  19. sugarspinner

    sugarspinner Well-Known Member

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    No, obviously no pump needed. What you're doing with the tubes is fairly common. Most people hang their buckets either on hooks or, in our case with the spiles we use, just through holes in the buckets directly on the spile.

    I'd say, tho this is a new sounding spile to me, the "trough" end goes outside the tree. And, I'd say it is intended to be used without tubing but directly. Is there a place to fasten a hook---usually a very heavy wire hook with an "eye" on the other end to fit over the spile?

    I do know about Bascoms but have never done business with them. We mostly use Sugar Bush Supplies in Mason Michigan that's 2611 Okemos Road, Mason Mi 48854, in case you need anything else. They do have a catalog, which I think they'll send. Email SBFarms@ concentric.net or a couple of other places in Michigan or Wisconsin. Sorry you had a bad experience.
     
  20. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    Thanks very much "sugar" (hope your at least female! :eek: ).