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Tapping Maple Trees | Homesteading Skills

Home Self Sufficiency Food Tapping Maple Trees | Homesteading Skills

Want to know more about tapping maple trees? If you want to have fresh maple syrup all the time, then this is something you should learn. It’s also a fun and unique skill that I think every homesteader should add to their arsenal!

Tapping Maple Trees

By Kathy Bernier

Nature provides a bounty of delicious foods for humanity to enjoy, and few rival the rich sweet goodness of genuine maple syrup. It makes a wonderful alternative to processed sweeteners, with the ability to lend its distinctive flavor to everything from baked goods to drinks. And of course, nothing beats real maple syrup on top of a stack of homemade pancakes.

Maple Syrup

One unique quality of making maple syrup is that it can be done on any scale. Some operations tap thousands of trees in a season, others tap just fifty. You can tap just a single tree if you want to. No matter how tiny your project, your end result is likely the same amazing quality as that of professionals.

If you are blessed with access to maple trees, you can be successful making syrup even if you have no prior experience. You need only a few tools, and can start out with minimal expensive supplies.

Follow these simple steps to create your own all-natural maple syrup that will melt in your mouth.

These directions are intended strictly for a very small venture in maple syruping. My way is a good place to start for your first trial run at producing a few quarts of maple syrup for your own use.

how to make maple syrup

Here I am in all my Maple Syruping gear

First, a little science lesson. The phenomenon known as “sap running” happens when nights are cool and days are warm, causing an ebb and flow in the pressure of the liquid inside the tree. In the northern climates where most maple syrup is made, the sap runs best during the period from late winter to early spring. Where I live, maple syrup season usually starts in late February to early March, and lasts about a month.

It is also important to know a little about the trees themselves. It is possible to tap nearly any kind of hardwood tree and boil it down into something resembling syrup. But the sap of other trees tastes different from the sap of maple trees. You might like it more, less, or not at all.

There are more than one kind of maple tree in most areas, and the one best for tapping is the sugar maple, or Acer saccharum Marsh. Other names for this tree include “rock maple” and “hard maple”.

Sap from the sugar maple is preferred not only for its taste, but for the sugar content. The higher the sugar content, the less sap is needed per unit of syrup. On average, it takes forty gallons of sap from a sugar maple to make one gallon of syrup. Other trees take fifty gallons or more.

Maple Tree Tapping | How To Tap For Syrup

Remember that nature is not like a factory—it doesn’t crank out rows and rows of tomatoes in identical sizes and shapes, or puppies that all learn at exactly the same rate, or hurricanes that develop in precisely the pattern and strength of other storms. Likewise, working with trees often yields varying results. Some red maples can yield excellent results, and some sugar maples might disappoint.

Tapping Maple Trees

Now, to get started. For every tap—that is, every hole in the tree—you will need one spile, one hook, and one bucket.

Tapping Maple Trees – Supplies

Tapping Supplies

  • Spile – a skinny little funnel that is inserted into the tree to collect the sap. One end is rounded like the end of a cigar, and the other opens out like a pour spout. A hook attaches to the center of the spile. I still use the old-fashioned metal type. They can last for years, and there are still plenty of them on the market for replacements.
  • Buckets – they come in metal and plastic options, with a variety of lid styles and materials. You can get by with using any container you can rig to hang on the hook, as long as it is food grade. Some people even recycle milk jugs for this purpose.
  • Drill – it will be necessary to make the hole in the tree. Either a manual or cordless electric drill is fine. You will need a clean 7/16 inch bit, preferably one which is brand new and dedicated to tapping exclusively.
  • Small hammer
  • Food grade plastic or metal containers of 5-10 gallon capacity – You will need this as a way to collect and transport your sap.
  • Wide shallow pan – to boil down the sap into syrup
  • Long-handled skimmer and ladle – to use for skimming off foam.
  • Filter – We use a tall thick cone filter made expressly for maple syrup, but you can use layers of coffee filters or thick paper towels if you need to.

Tapping Supplies Tip: We like to sanitize all of our sapping equipment at the beginning and end of each season, using a ratio of 2 tablespoons bleach to one gallon of tepid water.

sugaring kit

Amazon has a great starter kit. Check it out here.

Tapping For Maply Syrup – Setting Your Taps

Step 1: Locate Maple Trees

They should be at least eight inches across at shoulder height, but closer to twelve inches is better. It is possible to compromise the health of the tree if they are smaller than that, and will yield less sap. At around sixteen inches across, you can consider two holes in one tree.Adding the Tap| Tapping Maple Trees

Step 2: Drill Hole

Drill a hole 2 and 1/2 inches deep. It is helpful to wrap masking tape around the bit to use as a template. The hole should slant upwards into the tree just slightly. Be sure to reverse the drill to remove shavings.

how to tap maple trees

Step 3: Place Spile

FIRST – place our hook on the spile! there is no way to get it on afterwards. (Believe me, I have had to pull out and redo my share of them!)

THEN – Place the rounded end of the spile into the hole.

Tap it in gently with the hammer. It needs to be secure enough not to fall out under the weight of the sap in the bucket, but still able to be pulled out at the end of tapping season.

Tapping Maple Trees

The syrup comes out clear

Step 4: Hanging the Container

Hang the bucket and lid. The purpose of the lid is to keep out debris and precipitation. If you are missing a lid, you can always fold tin foil over the top. Wrap it tightly to avoid being blown off.

Maple Sugaring | How to Tap Trees

Let It Flow!

You might be tempted to set up a lawn chair on the snow and watch your bucket fill up with sap. As exhilarating as that might be—seriously, I love that kind of thing!—it will get old quickly. Do indulge in a taste of sap. It’s delicious!

tapping maple syrup gif

Image via wranglerstar

Collect Your Sap

You will need to go around to your trees once or twice a day to collect the sap from the buckets. You will need one or two large containers for this.

Since there is usually snow and ice on the ground during tapping season, the best way is to haul it in on a sled. (Don’t forget to wear your snowshoes to make life easier). Use whatever way works—there’s no wrong answer, as long as you get it to where you are doing your boil without dumping it.

The easiest way for me is carry along an empty bucket. I lift the full one off the first tree and replace it with the empty one. I dump the sap into the big container and continue to the next tree. The bucket from the previous tree is now empty, so I exchange it at the next tree and continue repeating until they are all collected.

If you are tapping only a few trees, it may not be worth your while to boil everyday. You can store your sap for a few days if it is cool enough. We set outs in the woodshed for storage and monitor it carefully if the weather turns warm enough to spoil the sap. If you open your container and the sap is cloudy, throw it out.

tap maple tree

Hauling my maple syrup on a sled in the snow like a true homesteader.

Tapping Maple Trees – Boiling Down The Sap

So you’ve collected your sap, but now you need a way of boiling it down. This is done by reducing the water content, or “evaporating”. Think of it the same way you would reduce food liquids in the kitchen, by cooking it in a wide shallow pan over high heat—boiling down sap is really the same principle.

There are many options for sap evaporation, depending on the size of your operation and your budget as well as your ingenuity. These range from multi-thousand-dollar setups to jeri-rigged back lawn affairs built from recycled components.

NOTE – It is not a good idea to boil sap indoors. Just think about where all that moisture goes. Boiling a large amount of sugared water is likely to make your walls and ceiling a sticky humid mess.

If you are making only a few pints of syrup, you may be able to get away with the indoor processing. And many people “finish” the syrup inside, cooking down just the final stages in a pot on the stove.

Making Maple Syrup

We used a propane turkey cooker for our first few years of making maple syrup. With its relatively small diameter surface—as opposed to the wide flat pans most people use for boiling sap—and its usage of propane instead of firewood, it isn’t a very efficient way to go. We probably end up spending almost as much making our own as we would to buy it, but the experience is rewarding and the practice is invaluable.

Step 1: Boil the sap

Boil the sap until it reduces significantly and begins to foam. Use the skimmer to remove the foam as it develops. This stage is one of the few advantages of using a turkey fryer—the likelihood of boiling over the edges of the pan presents less of a danger with the taller vessel, and the ability to shut down the heat quickly is an added plus.

We bring the sap indoors to finish.

Step 2: Filter The Sap

We filter it at this point. Be sure to wet the filter with water before you start.

making maple syrup

Step 3: Heating The Sap

Heat the sap in a stock pot on the stove. You can go by feel and taste to tell when it’s done, but you are guaranteed to make a few mistakes. Some will be too thin, some too thick. The end result will be imperfect but probably fine. If you prefer better precision, you can use a thermometer and bring the syrup to 7 degrees above boiling.

how is maple syrup made

Bottling & Storing Your Sap

While your sap is finishing, get some jars ready. You can use specialty jars made and sold just for syrup, or canning jars, or recycled jars. Some folks even use metal coffee cans with plastic lids.

Maple Syrup

Make sure your jars are clean, sanitized, and hot. I find it handy to store them in a pot of simmering water while I’m waiting to use them.

There are many schools of thought on storing syrup safely. We do it the way the lady at our local syrup supply retailer told us:

Fill the hot jars with boiling syrup to within a quarter inch of the top, fasten the lids tightly, and lay them horizontal on the counter-top to seal.

Some people process them in a canner. Others don’t worry about sealing it at all. If syrup does develop mold on top, it can usually be skimmed, reboiled, and put in fresh jars with good results.

Once a jar has been unsealed, it’s a good idea to keep it in the refrigerator. In fact, if you have any qualms at all about storing your syrup safely, go ahead and keep it refrigerated or frozen to make absolutely sure.

When The Season Is Over

You will know when it is time to stop collecting sap when the trees begin to push buds. When that happens, the sap will take on a bitter taste and the season will be done. Don’t forget to pull your taps, clean them up, and put them away for next year.

Amazingly, it is that easy: tap, collect, boil, and bottle. Maple syrup processing is easy to learn and is an excellent homesteading and prepping skill. The end result is an all-natural and renewable sweetener that tastes great and adapts to many different uses. Once you begin making your own maple syrup, you will be able to stock your own pantry and give it as gifts to special people in your life for years to come.

Now go make some pancakes!

Want to see how it’s done? Take a look at how Wranglerstar taps his maple tree in this video below:

What do you think about tapping maple trees? Have you done it before? How did it go? Let us know below in the comments!

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NYC Adds Nearly 4,000 People Who Never Tested Positive To Coronavirus Death Tolls

New York City added nearly 4,000 people who never tested positive for the coronavirus to its death toll Tuesday, bringing coronavirus-related deaths in the city to around 10,000 people.

The city decided to add 3,700 people to its death tolls, who they “presumed” to have died from the virus, according to a report from The New York Times. The additions increased the death toll in the U.S. by 17%, according to the Times report, and included people who were suffering from symptoms of the virus, such as intense coughing and a fever.

The report stated that Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decided over the weekend to change the way the city is counting deaths.

“In the heat of battle, our primary focus has been on saving lives,” de Blasio press secretary Freddi Goldstein told the Times.“As soon as the issue was raised, the mayor immediately moved to release the data.”

The post New York City added nearly 4,000 people who never tested positive for the coronavirus to its death toll appeared first on Daily Caller

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How To Make Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar

The thing about homesteading is you get to create your own ingredient right from scratch! Cheese, yogurt, butter and now sauerkraut, a delightfully sour and crunchy ingredient you can use on your meals — or consume by itself — while on a homestead, or while facing this health crisis!

This homemade sauerkraut is a great meal because it has a long shelf life. You can either make plain sauerkraut or mix it with herbs and spices. In this tutorial let us make Lacto-fermented sauerkraut that preserves all the good probiotics in a jar, good for your guts.

So how to make sauerkraut in a mason jar?

RELATED: How To Make Buttermilk On Your Homestead

Delicious Sauerkraut Recipe Every Homesteader Should Know

Why Make Sauerkraut?

|

Not only does sauerkraut spoil a long time, but it is also a meal in itself, and it is also easy to make! You don’t need to be an expert cook, all you need to do is follow these simple steps.

So let us get started. Here are the steps in making sauerkraut in a mason jar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cabbage or 2 1/2 lbs cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

Tools Needed:

  • knife
  • bowl
  • mason jar
  • smaller jar
  • rubber band

Step 1: Wash & Clean the Tools & Ingredients



Wash all the equipment and utensils you need. Wash your hands too.

You don’t want to mix your sauerkraut with bad bacteria, anything that is going to make you sick.

Next, remove the faded leaves from your cabbage. Cut off the roots and the parts that don’t seem fresh.

Step 2: Cut the Cabbage Into Quarters & Slice Into Strips



Cut your cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Then, slice it into strips.

Step 3: Place in a Bowl & Sprinkle With Salt



Put the stripped cabbage into a bowl. Sprinkle the cabbage with 1 tablespoon of salt.

TIP: Use canning salt or sea salt. Iodized salt will make it taste different and may not ferment the cabbage.

RELATED: Homemade Yogurt Recipe

Step 4: Massage the Cabbage



Massage the cabbage for five minutes or more to get the juice out.

TIP: You’ll know it’s ready when you see a bit of juice at the bottom of the bowl and will look similar to coleslaw.

Step 5: Press Cabbage Into the Mason Jar



Add the cabbage to the mason jar gradually. Press it in hard to allow the juice to come out. Do this every time you add about a handful of cabbage.

IMPORTANT: Food should be covered by the liquid to promote fermentation. Add any excess liquid from the bowl to the jar.

Step 6: Press a Smaller Jar Into the Mason Jar



You want to squeeze every ounce of that juice from the cabbage. To do this place the mason jar in a bowl and get a smaller jar.

Fill it with water or marble to make it heavy. Press it into the bigger mason jar. Allow any juices to rise to the surface.

Step 7: Cover the Jars With Cloth & Tie With Rubber Band



Leave the small jar on. To keep your jars clean from annoying insects and irritating debris, cover your jars with a clean cloth. Then, use a rubber band to tie the cloth and the jars together, putting them in place.

Step 8: Set Aside & Check Daily

Set it aside in a cool dry place, away from direct sunlight. Check the water level daily. It should always be above the cabbage.

Step 9: Taste Your Sauerkraut & Keep at Cool Temperatures

Homemade Sauerkraut Cumin Juniper | How To Make Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar

After about five days, you can taste your sauerkraut. If the taste is to your liking, tightly cover it with the lid and store in the fridge or cellar.

NOTE: If after five days it’s still not your desired taste, leave it for a few more days. This will allow the fermentation process to continue.

You can now enjoy your sauerkraut in a mason jar. Enjoy its goodness! You can use it as a side dish or mix it with your favorite sandwich.

Things to Remember in Making Sauerkraut

  • Store away from direct sunlight and drafts.
  • Colder weather will make the process longer. Spring is the best time to make them since the warmth helps activate the fermentation.
  • Always make sure that the cabbage is below the water level during the entire fermentation process.
  • If the water level decreases during the fermentation process, you can make a brine and add it.

Let us watch this video from Kristina Seleshanko on how to make delicious Lacto-fermented sauerkraut in a mason jar!

So there you have it! Making Lacto-fermented sauerkraut in a mason jar is as easy as slicing the cabbage into strips. Remember that as long it remains unopened, your sauerkraut can last for months. Best of all, you can partner this sauerkraut in many recipes.

What do you think of this homemade recipe? Share your best sauerkraut recipe in the comments section below!

Fellow homesteaders, do you want to help others learn from your journey by becoming one of our original contributors? Write for us!

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9 SPRING VEGETABLES FOR YOUR GARDEN

Having plants in the house will bring peace to people. Having a little garden with vegetables is even better! You can grow these vegetables in your backyard garden easily as well!

RELATED: Microgreens Growing Guide

In this article:

  1. Tomato
  2. Eggplant
  3. Beet
  4. Spinach
  5. Pea
  6. Carrot
  7. Radish
  8. Cauliflower
  9. Asparagus

Growing veggies in your garden will give you an opportunity to understand what you eat and value it more. Early spring is when most vegetables are being planted. Keep reading to learn about 9 spring vegetables that anyone can grow in their garden!

Tomato

Tomato is the most popular garden vegetable in the States! There are different varieties to choose from. Tomatoes need to be planted in early spring because they won’t survive a frost.

Because tomatoes are consumed daily, try adding them to your garden! They’re not difficult to grow either.

Eggplant

Eggplants are known to have low-calorie, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Plus, they are delicious! So why not plant them in your garden?

Eggplants shouldn’t be planted too early because they won’t be able to survive a frost. So you could consult an expert in your area before you plant your eggplants.

Beets

Beets are known to be a superfood for its various health benefits. They’re easier to grow in the garden, usually around late March or early April.

If the weather is always cool, beets will keep getting bigger and bigger. Once the weather starts to warm up, you’ll need to harvest them, or they’ll go to waste.

Spinach

Spinach is a delicious early spring veggie, and it’s also very beneficial for health. And it’s not difficult to grow spinach in your garden!

Spinach needs cold weather to grow. Getting spinach to grow is easy, but keeping it growing will require some extra care.

Pea

Peas are usually planted in late April. Peas will die in freezing temperatures, but they also won’t survive the heat either. So make sure you plant your peas in early spring.

Peas are widely used in many different ways, and there are different types of peas. The soil you’ll be planting your peas should be suitable for them, so make sure you ask while buying seeds.

Carrot

There are different types of carrots, but regardless of their size and color, it’s a fact that carrots are both delicious and rich in vitamins.

They’re root vegetables, so with proper sun and watering, they can be picked up as baby carrots as well.

Radish

A radish is an excellent option for beginners because it doesn’t require too much care. Radish is easy to harvest.

Radish grows fast, so it’s better to keep an eye on it after a few weeks. Radish usually is grown pest-free, but there’s always the chance of unwanted guests, so watch out for worms. Radish can be eaten raw or can be added to garnish recipes.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower isn’t the easiest vegetable to grow at home, but it is very popular.

Cauliflower grows better in colder weather, so before you plant it, consider the climate of your garden. Cauliflower can be eaten raw or cooked, and it is known to be very beneficial for health.

Asparagus

Freshly picked, tender asparagus is very delicious!

Asparagus plants get more productive with each harvest, and mature asparagus harvest can last for months! Make sure you plant them at the correct time, or else they might go to waste.

All the vegetables listed above are great for your healthy diet, and it’s fun to watch them grow. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to grow your own veggies and eat healthy this spring!

So tell us which veggies will you be growing this spring? Tell us in the comments section!

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