|Project by daltxguy||posted 03-08-2013 05:21 PM||1297 views||0 times favorited||13 comments|
Here is my entry for the challenge of the month. Tapping a maple tree and making maple syrup!
Well, this is just the first part of tapping the maples – but it has been a lot of preparation to get to this point.
Today I got the taps in – the weather is textbook perfect for sap flows, there is still plenty of snow on the ground and we have freezing temperatures at night, and mild temperature during the day…and today we had beautiful sun and blue skies.
I’ve never done this before but grew up very much aware of it around me. It turns out that the province of Quebec produces about 2/3 of all of the maple syrup for the entire planet! So, I am doing my bit…
So, here are some pics as I prepared to tap in the fall by identifying the maple trees ( I hope I got them right), deciding on what method I would use to tap( I went with recycled buckets, plastic spiles and short lengths of tubing) then all the preparations of finding buckets (free on craiglist), buying spiles and tubing, deciding how I was going to haul the sap out (I got a 15 gallon plastic food drum and another 45 gallon food barrel for storage), building a qamutik to haul equipment in & sap out and all the fussing and experimenting I’ve been doing to find a way to efficiently boil sap without spending a few grand on evaporators (trying to find the perfect, inexpensive rocket stove for boiling) and trying to do it all with firewood only.
I expect my operations to be perfected over the years and equipment likely to get more sophisticated. I’d even like to get less sophisticated in some areas – I’ll be on the lookout for real maple sap buckets to hang from the tree for next year.
If all goes well I might get up to 100 gal (400 litres) of sap, which will then boil down to about 2 gal (8 litres) of syrup. If not, I’ll be happy with a jar full!
Sap typically has a sugar content of 2%. It has to be boiled down to concentrate the sugars to 66% minimum. The typical ratio of sap to syrup is 40:1, so there is a lot of water to boil off!
There are more adventures to come, but this is my ‘new thing’ for this season.
Update 10 March, 2013
Harvested about 5 gallons of sap today. Qamutik sled worked wonders to haul it out.
About 2 of the 10 trees I tapped do not appear to be maples after all. Scratching my head on what they are but I am more convinced now that they aren’t maples. I think they might be elms. Will find out when the leaves come out. I’ve removed the markers and won’t be tapping those again!
Update 11 March, 2013 – 16 March, 2013
Return of winter and below freezing temperatures both during the day and at night means there has been minimal flow this week – and no harvest. Even if the trees did manage to give a few drops, it’s now frozen in the buckets and impossible to collect in a barrel. Next week looks about the same and with more snow – about 30cm (1 ft) forecast in the following week, collecting sap is likely delayed for another week.
Update 17 March, 2013 – 1 April, 2013
Another week of deep freeze stopped all flow in late March. Spring weather returned once again by the weekend of the 23rd March but it took some days for the trees to thaw out again. Even colder with lots of snow at the forest, so there was not much output the weekend of the 23rd – in fact all of the sap which was there was frozen and I brought it out in a bucket – so only about 5 gallons collected.
Warmer weather continued into the last week of March with ideal temperatures ( +7C during the day, -4C at night) – sap was flowing nicely under ideal conditions. Weekend collection ( on 29 March) yielded about 1/2 barrel ( 8 gallons). Added to the previous haul and the 2 taps at the house and there was nearly 16 gallons to boil down on the long easter weekend.
It took 3 days to boil it down using a slightly improved version of a wood fire using a large pan I had recently purchased. Still too slow but it did the trick and I yielded about 3 litres of syrup.
-- Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Thoreau