We are in the early stages of getting a couple of new projects going for this year. One is trying to tap the sugar maples on our property.
We have a number of sugar maples, but it’s harder to identify them in winter so we don’t have a good count right now. Ron has identified several of them for sure (at least, he thinks so).
We bought very basic equipment over the weekend. As in one single tap and one single metal bucket (the traditional image of a long, narrow metal bucket, if that comes to mind). You’re supposed to tap the trees right away, as soon as the sap starts running. If you wait too long, the sap gets bitter. We are slated to get a big warm-up Wednesday (42 F!?!?), but then it’s supposed to drop back to winter right away. We’re not sure if a one-day warm-up is enough, or if you tap only once it starts trending to spring. We think it’s the latter given that “maple syrup weekend” signs have started going up around Ithaca and it’s the weekend of March 21st. Given that timing, we don’t think we should start tapping Wednesday.
We have much to learn about maple syrup, but we’ve already learned that the ratio of sap to syrup is 40:1 (!?!?). That means it takes 40 gallons of sap to make a single gallon of maple syrup!? We definitely don’t have the capacity to make lots of syrup and don’t want to invest in the equipment for even small-scale production, rustic or not.
So, for now we’ve invested in one tap and one bucket. We’re going to tap a single tree once the sap starts running . Based on how that goes during the first 48 hours or so, we might run to Agway and get another tap and bucket, but we don’t want to invest in this stuff before having some actual experience under our belt. Plus even basic equipment is expensive so we’re not going to rush off and tap all our trees this year. We’ll start with one, maybe two, trees and see what happens. Guess it’s micro-scale production.