Maple Trees Make Syrup

Maple Trees Make Maple Syrup l Maple on Tap Book Review l Homestead Lady.comDid you know maple trees make syrup? Crazy, right? Did you know you can learn to tap your own maple trees to make syrup? Let me share with you what I’ve learned and why I’m NOT tapping my own maple trees (at least, for now).

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I Had Maple Syrup Dreams

I was sent a copy of Rich Finzer’s Maple on Tap, a straightforward little tome on learning how to make your own maple syrup. Last year I read it in a sudden burst of brilliance and planning.

You see, I was going to figure out how to tap my own maple trees on the homestead. Now, I had no idea how this was going to happen but I was tired of paying so much for beautiful, healthful Grade B Syrup at my local health food store.

I was sure Mr. Finzer could teach me how to DIY this one!

Maple Trees for Maple on Tap?

The first thing I learned from my reading was that you don’t need maple trees to get syrup. A lot of different trees can be tapped for their sugary sap, which is then turned into syrup. Here’s a great post by Homestead Honey on how they tapped their Black Walnut trees. This family is in Missouri, where we plan to move so I was reading this post with keen interest. She also has a thorough article about getting ready for backyard tapping – click here to read that.

Homestead Honey has a really awesome book on building your own outdoor pizza oven, by the way. You’ll be out there watching your maple sap boil down for a loooooong time – some pizza would be welcome. Just sayin’.

The Backyard Bread & Pizza Oven, a step by step guide to building your own outdoor wood-fired pizza

Maple Tree Facts

Maple on Tap focuses on maple trees and how to tap them yourself. I learned that this is a uniquely North American product and activity because of the climate and native maple tree populations.

I also learned that the three main maple tree species:

  • sugar
  • red
  • black

All these types can be grown on the same woodlot. This concept has become increasingly important to me the more I learn about permaculture. Here’s a permaculture profile of the maple tree – click here. It’s disturbing to read that Vermont maple are declining! I think planting as many sugar maples as we can is a civic duty. Don’t you?

Raw Syrup to Maple Syrup Magic

What amazed me most about making your own maple syrup, though, was that it takes 40 gallons of raw syrup to get 1 gallon of maple syrup! Or, as Finzer puts it,

“You’ve got to boil a river of maple sap to produce a puddle of syrup.”

The syrup doesn’t boil itself, either. You and your helpers have to sit around while all that sap boils to the right consistency, flavor and water content. Suddenly, my paying the going rate at the health food store wasn’t seeming like too much to ask.

Maple Trees Make Syrup l Many choices for maple tapping tools l Homestead Lady (.com)

Maple Syrup for Dummies

Maple on Tap was an easy read for a total maple tapping novice like me because it includes:

  • An excellent glossary
  • Clearly arranged and organized steps in the process of maple tapping
  • Lots of practical DIY tips
  • down to earth advice

Plus, Finzer’s prose is light and easy to read.

He emphasizes the basics for people just learning how to tap their own maples. The thing he mentions most often? Wood.

He’s constantly reminding you to make sure you have enough wood to burn for your whole sap-boiling endeavor. He’s run out before and he knows firsthand how that is simply not a good thing.

In fact, one of the things I like most about this book is that it’s honest.

He shares his mistakes with us and the things he’s learned to do differently.

“So, what did we do wrong that first year?” he quips, “Practically everything.”

Mr. Finzer shares his DIY tips and his recommendations for the items he purchases throughout the book. He gives you options from which to choose and allows that you might want to do something different. Rich encourages you to experiment and continue to learn.

Maple Syrup Making with Kids?

Speaking of learning, Maple on Tap also encourages you to make maple tapping a family affair. Finzer says,

“If you have young children, helping’ Mom or Dad is a reasonably safe activity they can participate in along with your supervision.”

Although he recommends that boiling the sap should be reserved for older children and teenagers.

Maple Syrup DIY?

Ultimately, after reading Maple on Tap, I decided that tapping my own maples is not something I’m ready for yet. For one thing, I don’t have enough trees where I am right now. When we move to the next homestead, I’m hopeful we’ll have a goodly number of trees to eye for tapping in the future. Let’s face it, there are only so many things on person can reasonably be expected to do at once. I’m at my limit right now.

However, I think that Maple on Tap served it’s purpose for me. Sometimes, the greatest thing an author can do for their reader is to convince them to forgo a venture, at least for a time, by laying out the facts.

However, for those who are ready to embrace this totally plausible venture (Finzer has great instructions), I hope you’ll check out Maple on Tap to help guide you through. For one thing, you have to read the section where he talks about how he makes the whole boiling down process go more efficiently – it’s really cool.

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18 thoughts on “Maple Trees Make Syrup

    1. I’m so glad it was helpful, Karla! My husband was just oohing and ahing over that book again last night and he’s all excited about it, too. Let me know how it goes and I’ll include your experience in our newsletter for everyone to benefit from – unless you would rather I not, of course. Are you doing maples or something else? We don’t have much in the way of sugar maples here but we have other maples and black walnuts. Joybilee Farm just posted about tapping birch trees – we definitely have a few of those in Utah!

  1. I finally convinced my husband that we should try our hand at making syrup this year. It might not be something we do every year, but I think we should at least know how to do it! I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    1. So glad you entered, Sara and good luck!
      I can’t take any credit for the giveaway since my good friend, Kathie, from Homespun Seasonal Living put it together but I’m so glad you like it. This company was new to me but they’ve been super to work with and I really like their products. Fortunately, they’re nicely priced so that, even if you don’t win, you might be able to find something you can afford.
      Let us know if you tap something this year!!

  2. This will be our first spring on a new property. About half of our trees are maple and the other half are black walnut. This is the first time I heard we can tap them all. Thanks for the tip!!! I’m excited to try it out this year, for the novelty if nothing else.

    1. That is so, so cool, Elizabeth! It’s like finding buried treasure on your homestead. Please let us know how it goes and if you use Maple Tapper products, I’m sure they’d love to hear from you, too. Do you have kids who’ll be helping? I’m interested in doing this with my kids!

  3. We bought a house last year with several huge maples.We definitely plan on learning to tap. Thank you for the great information!

  4. Great post. We started this last year (with 2 acres of woods there isn’t a lot you can grow/ raise, lol) From only 8 taps we made a gallon of syrup. It doesn’t take a lot of taps. Last year, we gathered in washed out gallon jugs. To make life easier, this year, we are using air hose and 5 gal buckets. We have 2 times the taps out!! The boiling takes forever. We are still learning! My 12 yo wants to make maple cant this year! Where are you looking to move in MO? We have been looking there as well, in the Southern area.

    1. That’s so exciting, Alicia! I think, like anything else, it takes practice and it sound like you’re doing just that. I love that your kids are involved, too.
      We’re looking in Southern, although I favor the north just because the soil is so much better. We’re interested in the mountains, though. We’ll see…God knows where we’ll end up so we’re just waiting for him to share the information! 🙂

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