Good morning, morning! I’m so excited- recently, we boiled our 1st batch of maple sap for 2022!
We didn’t tap until February 27th this year! Last year we tapped on February 20th, some years we have waited until March to tap. There were a few warm days in mid February, but we didn’t tap. I was afraid we had missed a big sap run. But I almost always wonder that since deciding when to tap is such a guessing game.
The daytime temperatures need to be above 40 degrees and nighttime temperatures below freezing. The swing in temperatures causes the sap to flow, then I can collect the sap in my frugal buckets (free from a local bakery)!
Since we only have 2 maple trees, if I tap early early, I may get sap when there are 2-3 warm days, but not enough to boil.
Storing sap can be tricky. It is perishable, similar to milk, so I could bury the buckets in snowbanks, but they are gone now. I could also freeze sap for longer storage if my freezer wasn’t full.
I like to have 10-20 gallons of sap to boil. So much water needs to evaporate out of the sap that 10 gallons of sap makes roughly 1 quart of syrup. I definitely don’t want a repeat of our first ever attempt when I produced a scorched spoonful of syrup!
Since there was a long cold stretch predicted after the 2-3 warm, mid February days, we waited until February 27 to tap. Within 4 days, we had 11 gallons- enough for a weekend boil!
When we drilled, I was worried because 1 of our 4 taps stayed dry until the next day. That tree is still not producing as much sap as the other, but hopefully it will increase and we will get plenty of sap to make lots of maple syrup.
Of course, since we don’t sell it (or eat lots of pancakes) any maple syrup we produce is fun!
We could have drilled a new hole, but it seemed to be in a good area.
It was not too close to older tap holes and the wood shavings were light colored. If shavings are dark, the area is damaged or stained and can produce less sap- but our shavings were light. We’ll wait and see how it goes.
When we boiled our first sap for 2022, it was cold and breezy. The husband set up the barrel cooker closer to the shed, so it was protected from the wind.
We always talk about making a temporary shelter or sugar shack. That morning we really talked about it- the temperature started at 19 degrees! Thankfully, we could huddle around the fire and go inside the house to warm up.
Our breakfast also warmed us up! One of my favorite things about making maple syrup (and camping!) is cooking over the fire!
We had toasty little smokies cooked over the fire for breakfast- yummmy, just like when we camped at Maquoketa State Park.
Our 11 gallons of sap only took part of the day to boil down to 1 1/4 quarts of maple syrup, but it was long enough to cook baked cheese and hotdogs for lunch in the maple cooker!
Even though I love maple syrup season and colder weather is predicted again, I am ready for camping and campfire cooking season to start!
Hopefully, we will have plenty of maple sap boiling days- so I can get plenty of maple syrup and cook over the fire!
Happy Camping (or cooking over a barrel cooker!)