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Tapping Trees for Syrup

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Get homegrown syrup right in your own backyard by learning how to tap trees.

Tapping trees is an easy process that involves more than just maple trees. It’s a gloriously easy activity and of course results in some very tasty liquid.

Two tree trunks with spiles and hanging metal buckets with text overlay stating: more than maple tapping trees.

Types of Trees to Tap

Most everyone knows that sugar maples are the most traditional tree tapped for syrup. However, any maple tree can be tapped for syrup. I personally tap silver maples. 

Beyond maple these trees can also be tapped for delicious homegrown syrup:

Climate is Everything

In order for any of the tappable trees to actually produce sap, they need to be in an area that has a winter or at the very least a period of freezing. 

Folks who can grow citrus aren’t going to be able to tap trees for syrup.  This is just a simple and true fact that there seems no way around it.

The optimum time to tap varies not only from region to region, it varies from year to year.  Trees should be tapped when the temperatures reach the 40 degree Fahrenheit range during the day and drop to the 20s at night.

Tapping trees for syrup from the backyard is a simple and rewarding process to put sugar and sweeteners into the homegrown pantry.

While most of us know generally when this will happen in our areas, it’s good to keep an eye on the forecasts to get the timing better and it is likely to vary a bit year over year.

The sap will naturally stop flowing once the temperatures rise too much above this range. It’s always a good idea to pull the taps once the leaves start to bud. 

Tapping Equipment

Commercial producers have huge systems of tubes and evaporators and much more.  At home, most folks keep it simple. 

To actually tap a tree, a hole needs to be drilled into the tree and a spile or tap of some sort must be placed.  

A man drilling a hole into a tree trunk.

Buckets or containers to collect the sap are also needed.  That’s pretty much it for getting sap from the tree.

Truly, Mother Nature does most of the work here.  

Making Syrup

Once the sap is collected, it needs to be boiled down into syrup.  This is a lengthy process but still simple.  Making syrup is simply boiling the sap until all the water is gone leaving only liquid sugar behind. 

The sap needs to be boiled until it reaches 7 degrees above the boiling point (boiling point changes depending on elevation, so it’s important to know at what temperature it boils to calculate proper temperature here).

I do this boiling on the stove, under a powerful hood. Many folks do it outside. It gets very humid inside, just a warning. Keep the syrup long term by canning or storing in the refrigerator.

That’s truly all there is to it. If you have the right climate, adding some homegrown and homemade syrup to the list of food creation and preservation ideas is a simple and fun thing to do. 

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Eugene

Saturday 20th of January 2018

I’m originally from Belarus. Birch is traditionally used there for taping. But they do not make surap but instead just use the sap as it is to drink it. Just like a juice.

Tdixon

Monday 18th of January 2016

This would be so awesome. We have to try this. We have 174 acres in southern Ohio so we should be able to find plenty of trees. Thanks!

Homespun Seasonal Living

Monday 18th of January 2016

Oh enjoy it and have so much fun!

Cindy

Monday 18th of January 2016

I have been wanting to do this, thank you for the instructions on how to do it, never knew you would get sap from so many trees!!!!

Homespun Seasonal Living

Monday 18th of January 2016

Isn't that fun? I wish I had a few more different types so I can do a comparison of the different flavors.

Jordan Charbonneau

Monday 18th of January 2016

Great article thanks for sharing! I just moved to WV from NH and are going to try tapping Sycamores as well as Sugar Maples this year. I heard that Sycamores have a butterscotch type flavor. I'm curious about how it will go here because so far I haven't seen the drastic change in daytime vs. nighttime temps that I experienced in NH.

Homespun Seasonal Living

Monday 18th of January 2016

I'll bet you'll have some interesting notes to compare based on climate. I'll hop on over to your blog to see if you post 'em.

d markley

Sunday 27th of December 2015

Hickory, too. The Indians didn't boil, they just put the sap into troughs and pulled out the ice in the mornings, no boiling!

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