Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tapping Maple Trees

We had a sunny, warm day today which is supposed to last for the next few days. Jordan and I were looking for something new to try in our food production experience. Just to see if we could do it, we decided to try making our own maple syrup. I didn't want to spend a lot of money and did a lot of research to find an inexpensive way to collect the sap. My total cost was less than $1 for the materials we needed.

Supply list:

1/4" poly tubing
large cup hooks
drill with bit to match tubing
zip ties
recycled milk jugs
food grade 5 gal. bucket
garden snips

The first thing I did was to drill holes into the tree about 12" apart. It is very important that the hole not be too large or you will lose a lot of the sap. I then cut the poly tubing with the garden snips so one end was angled and pushed it into the hole about 1/4 to 1/2".

I then screwed the large cup hook to hold the milk jug. The jugs fit just a little too tight on the hook and were difficult to remove so I placed a zip tie on the handle of the milk jug to hold it on hook. I drilled a hole in the lid of the jug and placed it so the tubing went through the hole and into the jug so no water could get inside if it rains. Jordan and I then hung the jugs into place and started collecting the sap.

In just 3 hours we were able to gather just under a gallon of sap today from the large tree you see in the picture which is at my daughter's house and a smaller tree I have in my front yard. I hope we can continue to gather the sap at this rate because it will take about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. Even if we only get a few cups of syrup, I know this will be an awesome experience for both of us...especially when we sit down to our first taste of our own syrup on a big stack of pancakes.

I'll keep you updated as we progress in collecting the sap and of course when we actually make our syrup so remember to come on back and join us in My Little Corner of the World. Kim

From the Michigan Maple Syrup Association:

The Algonquian Indian Legend
We don't really know who first discovered maple syrup, though most people believe Native Americans in the northeastern part of North America discovered the sweet sap of the maple tree. Several legends have been handed down over the centuries which tell of the first discovery of maple syrup. This legend comes from the Algonquian Indians and relates how a the wife of a chief discovered maple syrup quite by accident while preparing venison during the "Season of the Melting Snow."

Woksis, the Indian Chief, was going hunting one day early in March. He yanked his tomahawk from the tree where he had hurled it the night before, and went off for the day. The weather turned warm and the gash in the tree, a maple tree, dripped sap into a vessel that happened to stand close to the trunk. Toward evening Woksis's wife needed water in which to boil their dinner. She saw the trough full of sap and thought that would save her a trip to get water. Besides, she was a careful woman and didn't like to waste anything. So she tasted the maple sap and found it good-a little sweet, but not bad. She used it to cook her venison. When Woksis came home from hunting, he smelled the unique maple aroma and from far off knew that something especially good was brewing. The water had boiled down to syrup, which sweetened their meal with maple. Woksis found the gravy sweet and delicious. He spread the good news how the Great Spirit had guided his wife in making the delicious new food, Sinzibuckwud (meaning, "drawn from the wood" in the Algonquian tongue). Soon all the women were "sugar-making" ("seensibaukwut"), and the braves began performing the "Sugar Dance." Thereafter, maple sugar was produced and celebrated each spring after the long, cold winter during the "Season of the Melting Snow."

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