How to tap a Maple Tree
How many taps can I put in one tree?
After locating your maple trees you must first determine how many taps you are going to put on one tree. A good rule of thumb is not to tap any tree less than 16 inches in diameter at chest height. On a large tree you may put a tap about every 20 inches around the tree. Make sure not to have taps closer than 20 inches apart.
How do I tap a maple tree?
Most spouts use either a 5/16" or 7/16" bit. You should drill the corresponding hole at a slight upward angle about 1 3/4" to 2" (for a 5/16" tap) or 2" to 2 1/2" (for a 7/16" tap) into the tree. Make sure to use a sharp wood bit and clear the hole of any debris before putting your spout into place. Next, take your spout and place it in the hole. Gently tap (just a couple times) the spout with a hammer until it is firmly in place. Do not drive the spout in too far or you will crack the bark. Cracking the tree will damage it and also cause you to lose some sap. Now simply hang your pale on the spout and wait for the sap to start flowing. Be patient, it may not flow right away. Much like farming, sapping relies on the proper weather conditions.
When is it time to tap?
In the Spring of the year when the weather is above freezing during the day and below freezing at night. This is the weather you are looking for, so if the forecast looks about right it may be time to tap. If you are unsure just watch what the experts are doing. Experts are those people in your area that have been tapping trees for a long time and know what to look for in local weather patterns.
How do I cook the sap into maple syrup?
Now that you have some sap all you need to do is boil out all the excess water until it turns into syrup. Anything that will boil water will work for cooking sap. Make sure that it is a food grade pot or pan. Then when it is getting close you can check your product with a syrup hydrometer to know when it is done.
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