Sorry a little late this time, but March was packed. Wanted to share a new hobby I started last year – making my own maple syrup. It was confirmed one the trees in my back yard was a Silver Maple tree, and I wondered if it was possible to tap the tree in order to attempt to make maple syrup. Turns out that the Silver Maple is one of 4 maple variety that one can use to make syrup. The others are the Sugar Maple (of course), the Black and the Red varieties. Sugar is typically the best as it contains the highest sugar content of the four, but if you have any of these, give this a try next Spring.
Last year, to get started, I ordered some taps and tubes to collect the sap. Buckets were harder to figure out. To collect, you really need to use food grade material, and most of those buckets cost an arm and a leg, so I investigated other options. Some people recommended going to bakeries or other food establishments and ask for any used buckets with lids – as those are all food grade and they are just going to dump them in the trash anyway. I stopped by a local Dunkin Donuts and did get one 2 gallon bucket, but that was as far as I got. Instead, I came up with another idea – to use gallon Ziploc bags. Those are food grade too, so why not?
With all my equipment collected, I took a 1/4 inch drill bit with masking tap marking about 1 inch from the end to properly measure the depth of the hole. I found a root on the tree on the southern side (as was recommended on several websites) and drilled a 1 inch deep hole on a slight incline about 2 – 3 feet up. I took a rubber mallet and taped in the tap, attached the hose, put the hose in a Ziploc bag, and put the bag in an unused old Britta pitcher. Now I sit back and collect the sap.
I found with Silver Maples, they generally tend to be higher sap producers than the others, which caught me by surprise last year. I often will get 2+ gallons a day when the weather cooperates. To manage all that sap, I also bought a standalone burner and 3 gallon stock pot. I strain the collected sap through cheesecloth into that Dunkin Donuts 2 gallon bucket, then transfer the cleaned sap into the stock pot, and boil it down to about 1 – 1.5 gallons. At the end of the day, I put the stock pot back in my refrigerator, and repeat the process the next day.
Collect sap as long as weather permits – best runs are when the temperature swings between 20 degrees at night to 40-50 degrees during the day. It’s recommended to stop collecting once the tree starts budding, as that process turns the sap flavor more on the bitter side.
This year sap collection has been a bit start and stop due to huge swings in temperature, some days too cold, some days too warm. But surprisingly I’ve collected about 18 gallons this year so far. I’m hoping to make it to a little over 30, which is what I collected last year, which resulted in 80 ounces of syrup. We’ll see what the rest of this season brings. Stay tuned!