Thursday, March 7, 2013

Maple Syrup Time

Today my son Alex, Addie Mae, and I took a hike to the Maple trees. Not an easy thing since I tore my ACL recently. My goal, to get going on the Maple Syrup! Its that time of year again. Wahooo!
I only have 3 spiles so thats all the Maples I did. I came up with another crazy idea, Im famous for those  you know. I took a 5 gallon bucket with lids. Oh yea, the lids. That was a hunt in a half. No one has lids for 5 gallon buckets. After 4 stores, I hit gold! Or bucket lid heaven. I hope you can find lids around your area.
To my contraption I used a 3/16" vinyl tubing, attached that to the spile and drilled a hole in my buckets lid, even after all that shopping for those precious lids, I still drilled a hole in the lid! This way my syrup will be safer during rain storms. That sounds so odd. Rain storms and theres still snow on the ground. But, it also means its warming up, SPRING!
 The pictures are worth a thousand words as you will see below.
 Guess what I forgot to pack? Yuppers. Camera. I checked and rechecked that I had the drill, the drill bits, the hole in the bucket maker, whatever that is! My tubing, the spiles, the buckets and all famous LIDS...forgot camera~ Gesh! Alex took these with his phone.
To spike a Maple tree is very easy. I found my spiles locally or you can find them here.http://www.sugarbushsupplies.com/ They have everything and great reads!
This is only my second year doing Maple Syrup. I marked my trees last summer, Im not very great at distinguishing Maples by their bark, I need the leaves. I painted the tress with a large M. Then waited, and waited...winters here in Michigan are very, very, VERY long.
 The best time to spike a Maple tree is when the day time temps are above freezing and the nights still get to freezing, or 32*. The warmer days make the sap flow, the cool evenings stop the flow.
  Now for the fun part. I used a battery powered  drill and drilled into the tree about an inch. The size of the drill bit depends on what spiles you choose.  Drill straight in. I used a rubber mallet to lightly pound in the spile and BINGO! Theres sap a flowing! I pushed on the plastic tubing and ran that into the lidded bucket. Tomorrow, I shall hobble back up the big hill and see how much progress we have. This coming week is to be the Maple Sapaloooza!
 I will then haul my sap  back to the house where I have a turkey deep fryer hooked up to a propane tank and that I will use to boil down the sap to syrup. Its very highly recommended that you boil down your syrup outside. As the water boils off it carries with it small particles of sap. IF you do this inside, you will have a huge, sticky, very bad mess. Make sure to do as much outside. You can finish it in the house. You will know its almost finished by the color. Mine turns a beautiful amber color . It will get some what thicker but nothing like store bought syrup, which is mostly corn syrup. Homemade maple syrup will always be some what thinner.



 It takes about 40 gallons of sap to get  about one gallon of delicious, amber in color, ohhh so yummy your tummy sings, pure, organic, MAPLE SYRUP! Its so very worth it. Now go get you some spiles and spike some Maples.
When syrup time is up, I make a paste out of Diatomaceous Earth or DE and plug up the holes. Just to be kind to the trees. It will help keep out any unwanted bugs.
Happy Maple Syrup Season to Thee~

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