How to Tap Maple Trees How to Tap Maple Trees

The flow of the sap from maple trees is incidental to the weather conditions and it starts following a hard freeze, if there are a few days when the temperature is in the 40's after the freeze. At 40 degrees F the starch in the maple wood converts to sucrose and it goes into the tree's sap.

The flow of the sap will stop after a month. The sap should be collected each day; the later afternoon is the best time for collection.


Measure the tree trunk's diameter at 3 to 4 feet above the ground. It should be at least 10-inches around the trunk. If the diameter is between 10 to 20-inches it can handle 1 tap. The circumference should be between 31 to 63-inches. A diameter of 20 to 25-inches can take 2 taps. The circumferenc should be between 64 to 79-inches. When a tree's diameter is more than 25-inches it can be tapped 3 times. Never tap a tree over three times a season.

Note the size and shape of the maple tree's crown. Trees sporting large crowns that stretch towards the ground are better sap producers. Get a 7/16-inch drill bit and drill the hole to 2 1/2-inches deep. Angle the hole slightly upwards, which lets the sap run into the container. Attach the covered metal or plastic bucket to the spout of the tap by the bucket's handle.

Boiling Sap

Boil the sap on an indoor stove with a vent fan or an outdoor gas stove because boiling it produces a large quantity of steam. Gather a number of pans or a big pan for boiling the sap. Wipe the pan with some vegetable oil to stop the sap from boiling over the edge. As the sap simmers down add additional sap. To prevent the sap from burning keep it about 2-inches deep.

Converting the maple sap to syrup takes extended boiling. Always attend to the project to keep the sap from boiling away and scorching the pan. The collection of sap should be kept cold as heat causes it to sour. Boil all of the sap as quickly as possible.

The sap turns into syrup when its sugar content is 66 to 67 percent and its temperature is 7.1 degrees F higher than water's boiling point. Two factors affect the boiling point of water.

  • Elevation
  • Barometric pressure

    When the maple sap starts a rolling boil measure its temperature with a candy thermometer. This will determine the boiling point in a given locale. Measure the syrups sugar concentration with a hydrometer. Once the syrup has obtained the right density and temperature filter through wool to strain out the sugar sand. Or let it cool for at least 12 hours and the sediment will go to the bottom and the good syrup can be poured into another container.

    To can the maple syrup reheat it to 180 degrees F and have sterilized canning jars ready. Pour the syrup into the jars while hot and seal them. The syrup should be stored in a dry and cool area. Laying the jars on their side helps keep the seal.


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