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Always Loaded
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Words cannot express the satisfaction and pride felt when you create something wonderful with your own hands. I have wanted to attempt making maple syrup for many years. Jobs, kids, and forgetfulness have always gotten in the way. This year I remembered at just the right time.

My family home sits on a relatively small plot of land, about 2 acres. We have 6 red maple trees. Sadly, my father decided to prune the heck out of 5 of them last year. The one intact tree remaining is the one we started with. The first hole drilled emitted a instant stream of sap. I tapped this tree 3 times, and once each on the other chopped trees. For spiles, I used well cleaned empty .223 cases with their bases drilled out. I then attached a short length of clear plastic tubing which I ran to a empty milk jug. I was amazed that within 45 minutes, we had gathered a half gallon of sap from the primary tree!

Just for fun, we brought this small bit home and boiled it down. I was under the impression you must have massive amounts of sap to get even the smallest bit of sugar. I expected maybe a fingers dip worth. To my surprise we ended up with at least 2 tablespoons! It was not as dark as commercial syrup, but had strong maple flavor and had a light earthy vanilla essence. It was absolutely delicious. I'm guessing the flavor difference lies with the trees being red maple vs. sugar maple and no preservatives being added.

My daughter and I had a blast setting things up. The syrup season usually runs about 6-8 weeks, so we should be able to amass a good deal of sap. I plan to wait until we have 8-10 gallons then boil it down over an open fire and finish on the stovetop. It has been a great educational experience.
 

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Congratulations on your first batch. :thumb:

If my taps arrive on time I plan on making syrup from our local big leaf maple, my wife thinks I'm nuts but everything I've read said it should work. It'll just take a lot more sap then it would from a sugar maple.
 

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Deo iuvante
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The only way I've made maple syrup is by boiling sugar and water and then adding maple flavoring. Yours sounds better.
 

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patriarch
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So, an estimate, you started with 1\2 gallon and it made 2 Tbs? I'm trying to figure how much sap I
Would need to make, say make four QTS?

So, maybe 32 gallons? Yes, I call that a lot of sap! Sorghum works the same way. But, I don't know the %.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh...takes 40 gallons sap to make 4 QTS syrup! That is a lot.
I do know that it cooks off better the more cooking surface you have and you juice is only 1-2 inches deep. Large pan. Sorgum pan has area to pour juice and it cooks as it flows to the other end. Where it can be drained through a strainer or cloth.

You were right, you must have massive amounts of sap to get even the smallest bit of syrup. But, its good when you get it done. Congrads
 

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Always Loaded
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Discussion Starter #6
So, an estimate, you started with 1\2 gallon and it made 2 Tbs? I'm trying to figure how much sap I
Would need to make, say make four QTS?

So, maybe 32 gallons? Yes, I call that a lot of sap! Sorghum works the same way. But, I don't know the %.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh...takes 40 gallons sap to make 4 QTS syrup! That is a lot.
I do know that it cooks off better the more cooking surface you have and you juice is only 1-2 inches deep. Large pan. Sorgum pan has area to pour juice and it cooks as it flows to the other end. Where it can be drained through a strainer or cloth.

You were right, you must have massive amounts of sap to get even the smallest bit of syrup. But, its good when you get it done. Congrads

The amounts of sap needed will vary. I've heard as low as a 1/50 ratio, and as much as 1/200. It has a lot to do with your specific trees and their type. I expected less than desirable results from my non-sugar maples, but I was surprised.

It sounds like a LOT of sap, and it is, but its not difficult at all to gather. Last night, I stopped in at my parents home. It had been about 24 hours since I had tapped the trees. I had 3 gallons of sap waiting! 75% of this was from my one good tree. Now, figure what you would get if you had 15-20 trees, and the season lasts 4-6 weeks. That is a ton sap.

My plan is to wait about a week until I have around 20 gallons. I will then boil it down on a open fire in a big stock pot. After it's down to around 1-2 gallons, I will bring it home and finish it on the stovetop. Given the fact that the entire project has cost me $6 for a food grade bucket, and about 30 minutes of light work, even a pint of syrup will be totally worth it.
 

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Always Loaded
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Discussion Starter #7
Congratulations on your first batch. :thumb:

If my taps arrive on time I plan on making syrup from our local big leaf maple, my wife thinks I'm nuts but everything I've read said it should work. It'll just take a lot more sap then it would from a sugar maple.
I have a ammo reloading bench in the dining room, 110 Virginia Gold tobacco plants growing in the master bedroom closet, and milk jugs connected to the trees. I get plenty of odd looks from my wife too. I feel you buddy LOL.

The season hasn't even started yet up north, and is just beginning here in Pa. You've got some time.
 

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patriarch
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The bigger the cooking surface, the more evaporation. 19.5 gallons of water to evaporate? How long can you keep the sap before it starts to sour? Can you scorch the syrup by cooking it too fast? I had neighbors that made sorghum. Just a good solid roll was hot enough. They said you can't rush a good thing.
 

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patriarch
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I have a ammo reloading bench in the dining room, 110 Virginia Gold tobacco plants growing in the master bedroom closet, and milk jugs connected to the trees. I get plenty of odd looks from my wife too. I feel you buddy LOL.

The season hasn't even started yet up north, and is just beginning here in Pa. You've got some time.
I can raise about anything, but a guy sent me some tobacco seeds, & I could not get them to germinate? I tried couple times! Give up. Lost my confidence in growing tobacco. Any secrets? Or was it the seeds?
 

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That's cool!

I'm in NC and wanted to tap the one (yes...one) maple tree that I have. We went from days in the teens with 6 inches of snow on the ground...now its 60 and 70 in the day time and lows in the 40's and 50's...I think its too warm now? So confused...
 

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That's cool!

I'm in NC and wanted to tap the one (yes...one) maple tree that I have. We went from days in the teens with 6 inches of snow on the ground...now its 60 and 70 in the day time and lows in the 40's and 50's...I think its too warm now? So confused...
From what I've read that's what you want, cool/cold night and warm days, it helps get the sap flowing. And you can run the taps until the tree's start to bud, after that the saps no good for making syrup.
 

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LOTS of other trees qualify for syrup production... We mainly think of Maple because that tree is almost specialized now and most of the syrup is produced in the far Northeast and Canada due to their huge forests of Maples.

The main problem is the sugar content. There is the rule of 86 that tells it all. You divide the 86 by the % sugar in the tapped sap. At 1% you need 86 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of finished syrup. At 2% you need 43 gallons to make one gallon of finished syrup. It has been said that there are trees with 10% sugar that would require only 8.6 gallons of sap. Sugar Maples have the highest sugar content, and that early in the season. It is lowest at leaf-out time.

Birch syrup is a low sugar sap, but works. Many in Alaska use that tree as there are few natural Maples. Sycamores, Walnuts and other nut trees, and Box Elder can be tapped and boiled down, but their season is more limited and their sap just at 1%.
 

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From what I've read that's what you want, cool/cold night and warm days, it helps get the sap flowing. And you can run the taps until the tree's start to bud, after that the saps no good for making syrup.
Generally, the temperature range that works best is 45 F during the day and 32 F over night. Of course, one can extend those ranges a bit and still be successful.
 

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Friends of mine in NH have their own sugar house. Every year for Christmas they send me a quart of dark amber. I only use it when I make waffles from scratch.........
 

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Always Loaded
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Discussion Starter #15
I can raise about anything, but a guy sent me some tobacco seeds, & I could not get them to germinate? I tried couple times! Give up. Lost my confidence in growing tobacco. Any secrets? Or was it the seeds?
I am a complete novice in this area, but, I have already gotten my seeds to germinate. The biggest mistake people make is planting the seeds UNDER the soil. They are to be simply sprinkled atop your growing medium. Tobacco is the only seed that I've ever grown that is sowed this way. Temp, humidity, soil dampness, ect, are of course all factors. You should also always start tobacco indoors under a fluorescent light, not outdoors. Give it another try.
 

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Most growers I saw while living in Kentucky planted seedlings, not seed. How the seed was started, I don't know. No real interest (for me) in growing tabaccy...

Here is an "old school" small plot method that I've seen...



And the bigger boys did it like this:

 

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maple tree tapping

We too are tapping trees this year. In the PNW we have big leaf maples. I have only a few trees tapped and have yet to yield any reducable amount of syrup. I actually manufactured my spiles with a lathe. out of some scrap 300 series stainless. very excited for you! congratulations!
 

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Always Loaded
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Discussion Starter #18
On Monday we boiled down our first small batch, about 4 gallons of sap. Ended up with 2/3 of a pint of dark, rich maple syrup. Delicious! We got hit with a cold snap the last few days, but even with the temp hovering slightly below freezing, the sap was still running slightly. I lost a decent bit to inefficient spiles, but even so we have about 12 gallons waiting to be processed. As most is frozen, there is no hurry. Hoping to wait till we hit 20. Still have a whole month to go.
 
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