I say five minutes because the actual prep time really is only about five minutes.
Of course, the time that the sap takes to drain out of the tree, as well as the time to boil the sap it is quite a bit longer.
But this really does work, and it’s really really easy!
I had no trouble making delicious syrup on my very first day tapping a tree.
The trick is to wait for the right time of year. In the Northeast, that time is late March / early April.
Step 1 – Tap it
Grab any kind of bucket or container and set it under the tree.
Now, find any kind of tubing that kind of matches the size of one of your larger drill bits (we’re looking for something around 1 inch in diameter.)
Find a spot on the tree about 4 feet high and drill into it at an upward 45° angle, about 2 inches into the tree. Then, stick your tube firmly into the hole you just drilled and point it so it drips into the bucket below the tree.
Step 2 – Wait!
You’d be surprised to find out that it only takes less than a day for a gallon of sap to drip out of the tree, depending on tree type, season, etc. At first you might think, “what is all this water doing in my bucket?“ Rest assured that this is tree sap, it is supposed to look similar to water.
Step 3 – Boil it
This next step is even easier than the last one! Just grab the largest pot you have, dump your sap in it and get it to a boil under high heat.
Once a good amount of the water has evaporated, go ahead and transfer it to a smaller pan and continue boiling.
Stop boiling whenever you are happy with the taste. For me, it was somewhere around an hour per gallon.
As far as cleaning the pot afterwards…I found that maple syrup cleans up very easily. Walnut sap took a little bit more effort, for some reason.
Step 4 – Store it
Transfer the syrup to a container and pop it in the fridge. They say it should be good for about two months.
Before you get overly excited, you should know that the amount of syrup you get is a lot smaller than you’d expect.
The pros say that you’ll need 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!
I actually found my syrup to have a good consistency and taste when boiling a gallon down to about a cup (8 ounces). It’s a little on the thin side, but the taste is definitely there!
Step 5 – Getting Serious
If you do want to tap your trees on a regular basis, you might consider a tapping kit. Amazon sells a few maple tapping kits. I have not tried or tested any commercial tapping products, so you’re on your own there!