How To Tap Trees For Syrup
Some tree species in Alberta, including Manitoba maple, inferno maple, box elder and birch produce sap that you can boil into a thick, delicious syrup. The process takes time but is fairly straightforward. Here’s an overview of what you need to know.
What you’ll need
The metal spout you insert into the tree is called a spile. You should be able to find one at your local hardware store. Furthermore, you’ll need the following items: a power drill, a sharp bit, a hammer, a bucket with a lid, a large pot, a metal funnel and several clean glass bottles. You may already have most of these things at home.
How to collect and make syrup
Follow these four steps to collect and make your own syrup:
1. Choose a tree and drill a hole
Choose a suitable tree with a diameter of at least 25 centimetres. If you’re unsure if you have a tree that produces sap in your yard, an arborist from All Season Tree Service can come to your property and take a look.
Using a power drill and sharp bit about the same width as your spile, drill a hole approximately five centimetres into the tree. You can insert two taps if the tree is more than 45 centimetres in diameter and three if it’s more than 60 centimetres in diameter.
2. Tap the tree
Use a hammer to tap the sharp end of the spile into the hole. Then, hang a lidded bucket from the hook located below the spile’s spout. Alternatively, you can use a plastic tube to drain the sap into a four-litre water jug placed on the ground. Simply cut a hole in the jug’s cap big enough for the plastic tube.
Once the bucket or jug is full, pour the sap into a clean bucket or replace the water jug with an empty one. Store the sap in the refrigerator until you have enough to start bottling. You’ll need about 23 litres of sap to produce one litre of syrup.
3. Boil the sap
Pour about four litres of sap into a large pot and bring it to a boil over the stove. Turn down the heat and let the liquid simmer and thicken for about an hour. The syrup’s ready when it slowly drips from a spoon.
4. Bottle the syrup
Pour the hot syrup through a metal funnel into clean glass bottles. Cap them right away. Once sealed, a bottle of syrup will last up to two years in your pantry. After opening a bottle, store it in the fridge. It will keep for up to a year.
The best time of year to tap trees for syrup is in spring when the temperature is warm during the day and freezing at night.
Tree experts in Edmonton and surrounding communities
At All Season Tree Service in Edmonton, our arborists are familiar with Alberta’s tree species and the pests and diseases that commonly affect them. Contact us today to learn more about our services.