Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tapping Boxelders

So, the other day, I told y'all we were going to try tapping our boxelders and boiling the sap down to syrup.  Well, my friends, I finally got to Fleet Farm on Friday to see if they had any spiles, aka maple taps, left.  They didn't, so we had to get a little creative.

 Really, all you need is a tube for the sap to flow through.  Hubby decided to try using these de-inked ink pens (that I got for free last fall during school supply season).  He took the pen part out and tapered the end that goes into the tree (on the left in this pic--sorry you can't see it very well).  He put a mark on the other side so we'd know which side was supposed to go up.

If you really want to make your own spiles, do a google search--all sorts of creative people out there.

 First drill a 2.5-3 inch deep hole, the same diameter as your spile, at a slightly upward angle.

 Look at that sap already flowing out!  So exciting!

 Then, gently tap the spile into place.  Very gently, in our case, since the plastic is quite brittle.

 Tree with a straw sticking out :)

 Next, attach a collection bucket.  It just needs to be able to hold enough liquid that it won't overflow in between emptying (the smaller the receptacle, the more often you need to empty them), and it should have a top to keep out insects and tree debris.  We decided to use milk cartons, making our boxelder tapping project completely cost-free.

 Hubby tied a string to the handles and tapped a nail into the tree to hold the milk cartons in place.

Boxelder syrup, coming right up!

For more information on tapping trees and making syrup, check with your state's extension service.  Or Tap My Trees seems to be a good source for information and supplies.

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