Have you ever looked at a maple tree and thought… I’d tap that? Collecting sap to make maple syrup is as easy as pie. All you need is a drill, a spile and a bucket and you’re good to go.
Modern spiles are plastic, so you can use a thin tube to feed the sap to a central bucket or container that can collect for several spiles. You simply drill a hole in the tree, tap in a spile and collect the sweet sap that pours out from late February or early March, depending on the temperatures.
You want the daytime temperatures to go above freezing with the nights below. The sap is very delicious and good to drink. It is a good source of potassium, magnesium and calcium—all minerals that are good for bone health. Maple sap is packed with antioxidants and will help to lower your blood sugar. So help yourself to a glass or two while you wait for the syrup to boil down.
Tapping maple trees is a very social tradition. You need to make a fire where you can boil down the sap. The ratio is 40 to 1 so 40 litres of maple sap will produce 1 litre of syrup. That’s a lot of evaporating that needs to happen and that’s where the socializing comes in.
Sitting around and having a couple of drinks while tending the fire and adding sap to the pan is a wonderful way to pass the time. This is a lengthy process, so stock up on the drinks and snacks. And not to worry, maple sap helps to metabolize alcohol, so a couple of glasses will ensure you go hangover free.
The promise of a campfire, some outdoor time, friends and sweet, sweet syrup is something I look forward to at the end of every winter. If you want to enjoy this tradition too, here’s a quick video about the process of tapping maple trees: