Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ratta Tap Tap

This past weekend, was tapping weekend! We decided that the weather conditions were just right for tapping our "maple tree". We've never tapped before, but I've been looking online to learn how to do it and when to do it. Apparently, it should be cold (preferably below freezing) outside at night and warm up above freezing during the day. The process of freezing and melting helps build up the flow of sap - when the tree is tapped, the sap flows easier. We weren't sure if we were going to be able to tap this year, because the "start up kit" is a little spending and we weren't in a position to purchase anything "extra". However, I put it out there on Facebook that we were looking for some spiles - I assumed that no one of my generation would have spiles - but asked if maybe a parent or grandparent would have spiles that they wouldn't need for this year's tap. My cousin and his wife sent me a box of 25 spiles!! 25!!!!! What an amazing gift!!!! I'm so thankful. We had some water jugs and a stainless bucket to collect the sap and off we go!
A pile of spiles

A single spile - isn't it awesome!?

Tapping Supplies :: Cordless drill, hammer, a handful of spiles, a drill bit - large enough to tap the tree the size of the spile, bucket/water jug sap catchers, and a blade.

Hey, that's me tapping a tree for the first time.

Tapping in the spile (tap).

Drip, drip, drip ... sweet water sap dripping into the bucket.
Collecting sap.

By the time we were done adding the three taps to the tree, we had collected this much sap!

The next morning - we checked the buckets...look how much sap!

Straining out the bark bits.

Not too many particles of bark etc.

More sap!

More sap!

So delicious!

Carrying the bucket of sap into the house.

Mark and Shelby - Maple Tree Tappers

Drake, sneaking a finger full.

What do you think Drake?

It's delicious and sweet!

Boiling down the sap.

Tracking the evaporation.

Our goal is to fill this jar, think we can do it?

Evaporating more! Quicker than we thought!

Going very quickly!

Starting to turn color.

Getting thicker and darker.
The first batch nearly filled the jar - but as we were boiling this down, there was more collecting in the buckets outside and we were able to fill the jar to the top.
This was a great experience, in just a (less than) 24 hour period, we were able to gather enough sap to fill a jar of syrup. The jar was more than enough for us to have a pancake breakfast. Kait brought home pancakes from her job at Hueston Woods - they had an "All You Can Eat Pancake Breakfast" in celebration of their Maple Syrup Festival. Since Kait is a server there - she was able to bring home the leftover pancakes! NICE - free pancakes, free syrup (with just a little roll up your sleeves) and it was a delicious dinner. EXCEPT :: that I don't think it was MAPLE syrup ha ha ha. Maybe I got my tree identification wrong. We looked at the tree last fall, after all the leaves were gone, but thought that (from the bark and buds) that it was a maple, but the taste is definitely different from maple...maybe it is sweet gum? I don't know, we'll have to figure out, once there are leaves on (in just a month or so). The good news is that although it is not as sweet as maple, it is still delicious syrup - more of a nutty flavor...and we have enough taps to tap several trees next year, but we were able to sample the process with a smaller amount (easier to handle) - I'm hoping to get with a few of our neighbors and tap their trees in trade for some syrup. I think this is something we'll be doing for years to come and improving on the process each time.


  1. We are tapping for the second year this spring. There is a bit of a learning curve, but you are right, you improve the process a little bit each year.

    1. This year was really just our "test" year - to see what it would be like, would we even enjoy the process? Would it be too much of a pain? I think it was fun - as long as we keep it on a small scale, making some for us and maybe some friends to enjoy a meal or two. It's more about knowing HOW to do it :-)

  2. Are you alive. You havent died from syrup poisoning have you - eating from unidentified trees, goodness. Still i guess with all that boiling you should have killed any baddies. It looks like alot of family fun. Gosh those kids must think their parents are crazy but the most fun in the world. Like the new banner - but can only see part of the picture - show me the whole thing. Keep on Tapping On.....

    1. We are alive!!!! LOL We know that it wasn't a cherry tree (because cherry = arsenic), I know there are a ton of different trees that you can tap and are edible...It's tasty though.

      The kids probably do think we are crazy - but they (especially Drake and Cora) seem to get into doing that stuff too. Gage just kinda goes along for the ride.