Sunday, March 24, 2013

Another Sappy Post

We went to a maple syrup workshop last weekend, something that I've been wanting to do for years.  At least 2.  Maybe 3.  Years, that is.  Anyway!  We learned how to identify maple trees, how and when to tap them, how to collect the sap, and how to boil the sap down into syrup.  It was a hands-on workshop, so we actually got to trek out into the sugar bush (through 2 feet of snow) and tap a couple of trees.  It was so much fun.  But it was also kinda sad because, you see, we don't have any maple trees.

We have red and white pines, some firs and spruce, a couple of junipers, a weeping willow, and exactly two oak trees. We also have these other trees. I never knew what kind they were, but they're ugly, and kind of a nuisance, because they're always popping up in places where we don't want them, crowding out the trees we do want. And they grow so quickly.

First, drill, at a slight upward angle, 2.5-3 inches into the maple tree
On the way home, Hubby and I were brainstorming ways to get our hands on maple sap. As in, maybe the state park near our home would let us tap their trees (although I'm not sure they have maples, either). Or maybe we could freecycle for it or put an add on Craigslist for maple sap.

Then, tap the spile, or spout, into place
 So one of the things we learned at the maple syrup workshop is that sugar maples aren't the only trees that can be tapped to make syrup. You can also tap silver maples and boxelders, because they're part of the maple family.

Attach a collection bucket
Now these other trees, I never knew what they were, but the wheels in my brain were turning.  Those trees have little helicopter seeds, so it would make sense for them to be a cousin to the maple.  And those trees are where the boxelder beetles always hang out in the spring and fall (ahem, when the sap is flowing!), so it would make sense for them to be boxelders.  Why I never put that all together before now, I don't know, but my friends, when we returned home from our workshop, AKD and Bubby went out to check the bark of those nuisance trees against our tree bark identification pictures and...low and behold, we have several boxelders that are big enough to tap to make syrup.

Boil the collected sap until the sugar reaches 66% concentration
So we're going to try it.  Are we crazy? 

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