Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tapping Maple Trees: Making Your Own Maple Syrup - Backyard Homesteading Series

We are vendors at our local farmers market.  We sell baked goods, home canned goods and fresh home grown produce and a few other specialty goodies.  We love socializing with members of our community, supporting local foods and of course, we learn new things every market day.  One of the other vendors is a small family run business that specializes in local homemade maple syrup.  People love their syrup and they seem to get pretty good sales.  Ever since we became active in our local foods community, I've been intrigued by the idea of making our own maple syrup.  We love being able to be as self sufficient as possible and I love our little backyard homestead.  Plus, its something educational, useful and interesting that I could teach my daughter and hopefully some siblings in the future.  And.....we have a maple tree in our yard!

So I decided that next year we would tap our trees and I wanted to share the experience with all of you.  Now, we won't be officially tapping our maple trees until about February but I wanted to share the process with you because this is a good time of year to invest in a maple sugaring kit or to ask for a kit for a holiday gift.  Grandparents are always needing extra ideas for holiday shopping so why not ask for something fun, beneficial and interactive that the whole family can enjoy.

We got our kit from Tap My Trees. The kit is awesome and includes everything you need to tap your maple trees.  They even have some great resources to help you get started.

The process of collecting sap to make maple syrup is called "maple sugaring."  Trees that can be tapped for syrup are maple trees.  There are several different varieties of maple trees that can be tapped for syrup.  The most commons ones for tapping are silver, red, black and sugar maple.  Tap My Trees can help you identify the kind of maple trees you have.

Our kit came with collection buckets for the sap that come with lids to keep the crud out, cheesecloth for clean straining, taps (also called spiles), hooks for your buckets and the kit even comes with a drill bit to drill perfect sized holes in your trees.

Maple Sugaring At Home

First you simply drill your hole.  Angle the bit upwards at a slight angle to promote downward drainage.  You'll want to drill your tap hole about 2 to 3 feet up from the ground.

Then, insert the tap and hang your hook over the tap for hanging your bucket.

Attach the bucket to the hook and place the lip on the tap to cover it using the bar in the lip hinge.  You can open the lid while your collecting sap to monitor the sap level in your bucket.

So simple and easy!   Were in Iowa, so we will likely be tapping our trees for sap collection in February.  Sap collection time can be slightly different depending on where you live.  Typically, sap starts to flow through the tree in mid-February to mid-March when daytime temps stay above freeze and below freezing overnight.  You'll want your trees tapped for when the sap starts to flow so that it can be collected in your buckets and then made into maple syrup.
You can find out how to make the sap into syrup on the Tap My Trees website!.

So be sure to check the Tap My Trees website to find out what month would be best to tap your maple trees.  And remember you'll need to tap maple trees.  If you're unsure if you have maple trees or unsure of the maple variety you have on your land, the resources at Tap My Trees can help you figure that out!

I'll be sure to post an update this Spring and let you know how our sugaring process is coming along.  In the meantime, check your trees to see if you have any maples and add one of these kits to your holiday gift list.  Not only is this a great gift idea for homesteading, self sufficient and ecofriendly families but this is a great educational activity for families that homeschool, daycares and an outdoor classroom learning experience.

Have fun and happy tapping!

The team at Tap My Trees provided me with a complimentary kit to use in this post.
I was not compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own!


  1. That is so interesting! I have heard of it of course, but no idea what was truly involved. I will be interested to see and hear more about it

  2. This is awesome! You'll have to let us know how it turns out!