Wild harvesting your own “syrup”

Recently at Dogwood Hollow we decided to try our hands at tapping trees. On our property we have numerous types that is good for tapping. We have walnuts, sycamores and hickories to name the most numerous we can tap. After some careful and extensive research we decided this was the year we would try. Our studies taught us a few important things you should know. In this blog we show you what we did to get the sap, next we have to boil that sap down into a syrup which will evaporate most of the water leaving behind usable/edible syrup. But that’s another day!

#1- No more than 2 inches deep could harm the tree.

#2- The south side of the tree is best for tapping as this is where the sun is concentrated.

#3- Between mid February and mid March is usually the best time to tap and you want to tap on a warm day when your sap is sure to be running.

Tapping trees1

Determined face, haha, I didn’t want to drill too deep and harm this tree šŸ™‚

So we thought we would start off small and see how that went. We looked online and eventually purchased a small kit for tapping trees. I think we paid a little over $8.00 before S&H and waited about 5 days or so for the arrival of the package by UPS. In the mean time we made our way to Lowes and purchased 5 three gallon buckets with tight fitting lids, a bit for drilling, 5/16th size, and charged up the cordless drill.

Tapping trees2

Tapping in spiles

For our first experience we decided to put in 3 taps, one in each tree we located, and a larger tree we put in 2 taps. We tapped a walnut first and the sap came running out like water. Then we moved on to a medium sized sycamore and then another and then a large walnut where we placed to taps on the south side of the tree. Each time the sap came running out as I drilled. Drill only 2 inches in at a slight upward angle and clean out the hole so you don’t get a clog.

Tapping trees3

Drilling the holes in the bucket lids for the sap line

We measured the 2 foot lines before we drilled so we didn’t drill to high or not high enough. We wanted the lines to run at a downward angle and not turn or kink, into the hole in the bucket lid. We let the sap run for 24 hours and then we went and checked our first tap. There was about 3 inches of sap in the bucket. Not to bad for our first attempt at tapping I thought. Then another 24 hrs and we got a bit more. THEN came the cold and rain snap. SO here we are on day 3 of this weather and the sap has quit running.

Tapping trees4

Placing lids and lines in their respective postions

We have decided to leave the taps in as in a few days the weather will warm again and the sap will run again. Also, it has gotten very cold here in southern MO. and so the cold will keep what we have in the buckets already. Over all during the tapping process I felt I did a decent job and if I had to critique myself I would say the angle at which I drilled was a bit to much down. So next time I will make sure I do not angle my drill to much down. I know that is true because when I tapped in my spiles, the connector nozzle at the line, where the hose connects, touches the tree bark.

Tapped walnut tree

Single tapped Walnut tree

So over all, could have been a bit more straighter of an angle, but it works and sap is flowing. I was quite careful not to go to deep into the trees too. Stay tuned for the updates on the tapping of our walnut and sycamore trees.

Sycamore tree double tap

Double tapped Sycamore tree


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