Monday, April 7, 2014

From Sap to Syrup Part I {Homestead Learning}

My husband and I dream of one day owning a small farm where we can produce our own food.  For now we must bloom where we are planted.  That is right here in the middle of town.  We are unable to keep any kind of farm animal.  We cannot even keep bees.  So what we have started doing is learning how to do various homesteading tasks on a smaller scale.  Today we went out to our trees and learned how to tap trees.  Now normally you should tap your trees very early spring around Mid-February.  So this year is going to be a learning experience for us all. 

We have 2 large maple trees in our front yard.  In the back we have a walnut tree.  From our research online we have discovered people have actually tapped walnut trees and made syrup. 

This is going to be a learning experience for the whole family.  When I was a kid we use to tap our trees and make syrup.  It's funny how you remember certain things from your childhood.  I was only 8 years old when we did this.  But I remember walking into the woods with my dad to tap maple trees. 

So early this morning we gathered our supplies and got to work.  We found this neat kit from Amazon that had the spiles (Tree taps) and tubing along with instructions on how to tap your trees.  The kit is sold by Harvest Supply.   I am already sold on this company...they included a handwritten note thanking us for the purchase.  I love that!!  We purchased 5 gallon buckets with a lid at our local hardware.  We drilled a small hole in the lid to protect the sap from bugs and wildlife.  Also, we needed a drill with the 3/16 bit and a hammer.  I was thrilled I got to use my pink hammer from my new tool set. 

Now lets get started on tapping our trees.  First you want to drill into the tree about 2 inches.  Some books say 1 inch but that wouldn't have been long enough for the tap to fit in.  Drill at a slight upward angle.  When we backed the bit out the sap immediately started running out of the tree.  Place the tubing onto the tap and gently hammer the tap into the drilled hole. 

We drilled a hole into the lid of the bucket so the tubing will fit right into it snuggly.  Place the tube into the lid and then onto the bucket.  Our buckets have a nice seal around them which will keep a lot of the icky stuff out of our sap.

Once we got the tap and tubing into the tree the sap started to really pour out.  Ideal temperatures for sap is daytime of 30 degrees or higher and nighttime temperatures of 20 and below.  It's only going to get down to 30 tonight so we shall see how it goes.  You can collect sap until buds start appearing on your trees or the sap starts to look cloudy.  If you look closely at the picture above you will see the sap in the bottom.  It looks like water at the bottom of the bucket. 

LOOK at that wonderful sap!!  This is the sap from our walnut tree.  It has a slight nutty flavor compared to the maple sap it is slightly sweet.

So now we wait for the sap to collect in the bucket.  We will empty the sap and start boiling it down tomorrow morning.  Our grill has a side burner that we are going to use.  We are going to boil the maple and the walnut separately to compare the flavor.  We will probably get just a small jar of syrup when all is said and done.  It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.  Most of my information has come from the NYS Maple Syrup website.

"The trees of the LORD are full of sap, the cedars of Lebanon which He planted, where the birds make their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees." Psalm 104:16-17

I am joining in on the Homestead Barn Hop.


Farmlife Chick said...

How cool! I can't wait to hear how the walnut syrup tastes!

Mary said...

Me too, I've heard about other types of trees being tapped, but not really any details. My maternal grandparents had a farm in Vermont, and my grandfather tapped trees and boiled the sap down to sugar. It'ssomething I would have loved to do with my kids, I think it's neat that you're teaching them homesteading practices.

Joanne said...

This is great!! We've been wanting to do the same thing as well. My oldest son and my pastor work at a tree nursery where there are some mature maple sugaring trees. We were planning on tapping them this spring but ... we actually FORGOT about it until it was too late. Oh well. Maybe we'll get a little come fall? We'll see!

I appreciate your comment about 'blooming where you are planted'. I actually have a blog post in the works right now saying the same thing. I think I'll link to your post here as a good example so I'm not just talking about myself ;-) Also, that will be a convenient way for me to remember this post and learn from your experiences.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Joanne in Monett, MO