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Discussion Starter #1
How many of you tap maples and make syrup or candy? I have a few trees marked and would like to tap at the end of February. I hope to tap about 6-10 trees. I have read that each tree in a season can yield up to 10 gallons of sap, not sure how realistic that is. If I could get 1 gallon of finished syrup I would be pretty stoked. Nothing better than pure maple syrup over a stack of hotcakes with pork sausage!

I did this as a science project in 7th grade and loved it. Was wondering when generally in southern Michigan people start tapping?
 

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A couple of guys at my church run sugarshacks, I'll ask them. The ten gallons of sap per tree sound plausible to me, but as I remember you need a vast quatity to get anything. Something like sixty gallons of sap to a gallon of syrup.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Youper,

I remember reading that it takes about 40+ gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup. However the sap gets more diluted later in the season, it could be close to 60 gallons sap/syrup. Plus it depends on the quality/specie of the tree. Sugar maples are best, but the other maples produce useable sap.

I remember as a kid tapping one tree early in the season and the sap was yellowish when it came out, boy was it sweet! That particular tree made the best candy, we boiled it down to the consistency of peanut brittle.
 

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kroppe

My brother and I use to tap trees when we were kids. I remember it took alot of boiling to finally get the finished product. We would tap around the begining of March if I remember right.When it warms into the low 40's during the day and about or a little below freezing at night. Make sure you have covers for your buckets in case of rain or snow.It cuts way down on boiling off the excess water that way. Good Luck.
 

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I used to tap tree's when I was a kid too. One great memory was crossing a wetland to get to a ridge where I had some taps going. I had to use hip boots and when crossing one day, I started spooking lot's of nice pike that were spawning in the marsh. The first one scared the crap out of me until I realized what they were. It was connected to Center lake by a small creek and they must have swam up it to get to the marsh. When I went back the next day, they were all gone. I did this for a few years until I left a boiling pot on the stove to long without checking. The sap boiled down to black crud that charred the pan and really smoked out the house. Mom put an end to my maple tapping that year.

Anyways, that was in mid March right after ice out. I think spring has been breaking much sooner recently. I know a guy who taps every year and sells the syrup he makes. He starts tapping in early Febuary and I asked him about it when buying some from him. He said that he gets a much better yield from the sap he gets early on. The only drawback is that is the flow stops when cold snaps roll through. He said he wants his taps in place as soon as we start getting daytime temps in the upper 30's.
 

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32 to 1 ratio. The guys who sell the good stuff go 40 to one.

I have a good friend that makes 40 Gallons a year (1600 gal of sap). The way he makes it sound, the basics are easy, but the more you get in to it, the more there is to it. Once the buds reach a certain size, the sap starts getting sour or bitter or something.

Here's one I never new. In Alaska, every things the same, but they tap white birch. Its more like 60 to one and the stuff like really expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
RIP,

Yes there are a number of trees that can be tapped to make syrup. I am really looking forward to this season, I marked some trees while the leaves were still on, so hopefully I'll get a useable amount of sap.

We eat pancakes pretty often (young kids in the house!) and we only buy pure maple syrup. No Log Cabin for us! It will be great to have a nice stack of cakes with Michigan maple syrup on top, with Michigan venison breakfast sausage on the side. Yum!
 

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i saw a special on alaskan specialties. evidently there is a group that taps birches and makes birch syrup, supposed to be really good! i have been thinking of maybe getting into this (and since i seem not to be able to find a job, i might just do that, god knows i'm gonna have enough time on my hands, stupid economy). any suggestions where to get the taps and shims?

steve
 

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Discussion Starter #9
MSU,

I got my taps from a hardware store, the mom and pop kind, not Home Depot or Meijer's.

I think they were $2.00 or something like that. The containers I use are washed out milk gallon jugs, with string to tie around the tree.

I'll try to post pics and a basic how-to when I tap my trees in about two weeks.
 

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My wife is alergic to the store bought so we use all maple syrup. We were really thinking of tapping some trees this year and learning how to make the syrup. That way in a few years we will have the process figured out and can tap trees as a familly I think my son will live it when he is like 5 or 6. Anyone know of a good way to identify maple tree's in the winter. I hunted a mile long ridge in the UP this year but I dont know that we could spend more then a weekend up there so I would most likly have to find trees close to home.
 
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Discussion Starter #11
Brandon,

That was a problem I had two years ago when I tapped a bunch of trees I thought were maples, which I tried to identify in Februrary with no leaves. Result - no sap. For me it is hard to identify maples with no leaves, although I'm sure an expert woodsman like Trout could figure it out. There are resources on the internet and in bookstores/libraries that help you identify maples by the shape of the tree, branches, buds and bark. Sorry I don't have specific suggestions, but the reason for this follows below.

My solution was to identify maples in the fall when they still had leaves, and put a paint dot on the trunk. So in about two weeks I'm going to start tapping the trees I marked. I marked only a handful of trees, 4-5, but if the statistics are true and you get up to 10 gallons of sap per tree, I should have enough sap to hopefully make a quart or two of finished syrup.

It is a fun project that I learned in junior high school. My son and daughter have fun with it as well.
 

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A person told me that the maples with red leaves produce less water in their (raw) syrup compared to those with yellow leaves. Any truth to this?
 

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I'm going to give this a try this year. We've got some really nice maples that I am going to tap.


Thanks for the link trout! I ordered some spouts from them.
 
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I neighbor down the road who has a large tapping operation and sells maple syrup put all his taps in yesterday.
 

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I have been making maple syrup for about 15 years. Last year I tapped trees the 2nd week of January, and it ran all through Jan and Feb. I made about 8.5 gallons, which is a record for me. I just do it on the stove (gas). The early sap has higher concentrations of sugar, but it all makes syrup. Sugar Maples have more sugar as well. I get a gallon of syrup from about 32 - 40 gallons of sap. I do not actually boil it, as it gets overcooked when it is too hot. I just put sap into roasting pans on the stove, and add sap (with bugs and bark strained out) over and over on low heat, until it evaporates and becomes syrup. It does add a lot of moisture to my house, so I crack my scuttle hole upstairs to let the house breath.
My kids are spoiled and eat waffles and pancakes with real maple syrup 4 - 5 days/week most of the time.
I burn a pan every other year or so, and it always makes me wonder why I don't just buy the stuff - it stinks up the whole house for days.
I was thinking about tapping some trees, but I am going on vacation for a week, and wouldn't be able to watch it, so I didn't. This is the time, though.
I usually tap only large trees, and put 3 taps on the South (sunny) side of the trees - the sap runs a lot better there. Tap them about 3 - 4 feet up from the ground, 2.5 inches in, so the tap angles down a little. If you get rain water in the sap, throw it away - it will ruin syrup if you put it in.
When you get it cooked down to where you think it is done, can it in canning jars. For a twist, I put cinnamon sticks in some of my jars - 1 or 2 per jar. It tastes great. Refrigerate after opening.
 

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This is a great thread! I have always wanted to try doing this. Is it to late to start now?

Thanks - Greg

:)
 
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Still time to start. Best is when we have days above freezing and nights below freezing. We have only had a couple days like that to get sap running and then the recent cold snap shut it down. The warm up for this weekend will probably get the sap running again. If you get your taps in soon, prime time is just around the corner.
 

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Just something to think about!!

Tapping Mapels is great unless you plan on lumbering your trees. Putting taps in trees according to my forester and lumberjacks ruins the tree. I have seen this and it will rot from the inside out.
Also Hard maples are at an all time in price. So if you ever want to havest a forest for manangement purposes be careful you may be doing your forest harm!!!

Just a thought I learned this winter select cutting 30acres with taking 508 trees.
 
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