Let’s Try This Sugarin’ Thing

The months have been speeding by with so many things going on in our lives. Sunday I came to the sudden realization that I am very behind on my plans to tap maple trees! I only realized it because when I was checking my Facebook feed, several people had posted about setting up taps.

Nose to the grindstone.

I was out of town visiting my family, so of course I missed the perfect opportunity to get the taps started. Luckily, my mom and dad also do maple sugaring, so instead I spent the weekend discussing with them the best ways to go about the process. I’m a newbie afterall. We stopped at CountryMax and picked up some supplies.

Since this is my first go-around, I did not want to spend too much money on supplies that I may never use again. I bought the taps and hooks for relatively cheap, and well as a short book to use as a guide.

I considered buying some buckets, but the cost was a lot when you take into account enough buckets for the trees, and then more buckets to store the sap in. So instead, I opted to use my store of Poland Spring Gallon Water Jugs. They are the cylinder shaped jugs, not the ones with the milk jug type handles, so I wasn’t sure how well they would work. I have nearly 60 empty ones saved up (yes, I may be a pack rat) because I was initially planning to use them as mini greenhouses to help harden off  my garden during the first plantings. But alas, the jugs also work for this purpose. It looks like I will get two great uses out of them!

I fashioned the jugs so that the top is a flap where the tap can be inserted. Just below the flap I poked a hole in the plastic so that the hook could go through the jug and hold it in place. It isn’t a super elegant solution, but it is free and will work for my purposes this year.

After I fashioned all the jugs, it occurred to me that a better solution would be to flip the jug upside-down, cut the flap on the bottom and then use the cap end as a drainage hole to dump the sap into the storage tanks. I may still end up trying this tomorrow if I find that taking a full jug of sap off a tap is a pain.

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I marked my trees with orange tape earlier this fall. Above is one of my tapped trees with my gallon jug solution all set up. 

I could not believe how stupid-easy it was to get started with the tapping. I followed the instructions in the book to a T and so far everything has worked as perfectly as expected. The sap started flowing out of the tree instantly when I drilled into it. The taps stayed right in the tree like they should. I was totally expecting them to fall out.

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It’s a little dark, but here is an up close shot of my sap collection solution.

I have a few concerns going into tomorrow. I think when I wake up in the morning my buckets will be overflowing, so it may be pretty messy. It’s supposed to get into the 50s tomorrow and the 60s on Thursday, so another potential hurdle will be keeping the sap cool. I have a few solutions up my sleeve. I’m also not sure when I’ll be able to start boiling the sap and how. I think I may use a turkey deep fryer this weekend, but I need to buy one first!

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Another dark photo, but if you look closely you can see the line of sap is almost to the bottom of the water bottle label. This was after only an hour of sap collection! It’s running quite fast today. 

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