Project: Maple Syrup – Stage One, The Tap.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I didn’t grow up with chemical laden table syrup as a staple pancake topping. I have always had the fortune of enjoying pure ontario maple syrup. My Nan purchased large containers of this every year and my parents would always get in on the order. Sure there were times when we had table syrup but I must say that I’m really not a fan and that I would prefer for my kids to enjoy the real deal.

Lets not kid ourselves here though – this stuff is pricey – a litre of this stuff will run you anywhere from $12-$17 depending on the quality and time of year. This is at least four times the cost of common table syrup. Count the number of ingredients in each bottle and one thing becomes clear – table syrup is full of junk and pure maple syrup  is not. Maple Syrup is simply just boiled down sap from Maple trees – it doesn’t come much purer or simpler than this.

Now this post isn’t an argument about why Maple Syrup is superior to Table Syrup…I welcome any one to offer up a case for Table Syrup. What this post is about is how YOU can ‘craft’ your own Maple Syrup. The barrier to entry on this one is really low. All you need is some Maple trees, some spiles, buckets, a drill, a hammer, a heat source and some patience. Let’s get to it.

It all starts when the days start to warm up

We all get pretty excited when we start to see the temperature creep above the freezing mark for the first time in March. It’s still hard to see those night time lows but for anyone making Maple Syrup this is prime time. Warmer days and colder nights are what is required for a successful and bountiful batch of syrup. When the nights are below freezing and the days are above the sap starts to flow from the base of the tree up to the limbs – it is this flow that allows you to collect the SAP through your spiles. If the nights are cold and the days stay below freezing don’t tap your trees…but be ready to do it as soon as you hit the sweet spot. The window for collecting sap if not very long, once those nights warm up the sap won’t be at the base of the tree where your spiles will be, it will be up at the limbs working hard on getting those leaves budding (which is also a great thing). We plan on collecting sap for about a week to 10 days.

This first post is only going to outline the steps to get your trees tapped. We didn’t want to wait until the final stages to do this post since we would love for some of you to give this a try this year. It really is extremely easy.

With this particular post I think it is easiest to walk you through the steps using a gallery format. Just click on the first image below and then click your way through the steps. Once again, this really is easy. We tapped a half dozen trees in about a half hour. We will update with a second post in a week or two outlining the boil down and showing you the final results.

The Steps

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