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Maple Sugaring at Chiot’s Run

March 13th, 2009

Yesterday Mr Chiots and I tapped 12 of our maple trees here at Chiot’s Run. I have always wanted to do it but I thought you could only tap sugar maples, but Saturday I found out this was not the case.
I ran to Lehman’s Hardware in Kidron, OH and bought some spiles to tap our trees. Then we spent a half hour tapping our maple trees yesterday.
One tree started running sap as soon as we tapped it, it was very exciting. We hung the jar under it and it produced almost a pint of sap in 2 hours before it got cold.
It’s a bit late in the year for us to be tapping, the season started a few weeks ago, but we still have a week or two of sap weather coming. We won’t get much syrup since it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. If I get enough for one pancake breakfast I’ll be happy.
This is such a great way to learn new things. I would never just sit down and learn about maple trees, but we had a great time looking in our tree book and finding out how to identify maple trees in the winter by their bark. It’s a good thing I already knew which trees on our property were maples, since identifying trees in the winter without being able to see the buds is a bit of a challenge. We learned a lot and we’re looking forward to the sweet reward!

Anyone else tapping their maple trees? Do you buy local maple syrup?

27 Comments to “Maple Sugaring at Chiot’s Run”
  1. Emily@remodelingthislife on March 13, 2009 at 6:01 am

    That is so cool! I can’t wait to hear how much you end up getting and how your pancake breakfast is :)

    Emily@remodelingthislife’s last blog post.. Spring Is In The Air

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  2. Mangochild on March 13, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Maple sugaring is the best part about this time of year (well, that and seed starts). I had no idea you sugared your own trees, that’s amazing to think of eating your own syrup. I remember the first time I learned how much it had to be boiled down, new appreciation for the resource, that’s for certain.
    I’m going to Sweet Wind Farm this weekend for their sugaring open house, and can’t wait :-) Though I’m sure it can’t compare to your own trees! Will you post more pics of the boiling/reducing process? I’d love to see them.

    Mangochild’s last blog post.. First Seed Starts of Spring 2009!

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  3. Julia on March 13, 2009 at 7:11 am

    That’s so cool! I live in New England and have been meaning to head up to Vermont for maple making season… Maybe next year… Can’t wait to hear about your syrup!!!

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  4. Judy on March 13, 2009 at 7:29 am

    we’ve currently only got oaks :( But I lived in Western New York State for a while (long ago) and got to help some friends with sugaring. They produced commercially and I got to help boil down the sap one afternoon. Snow on the ground, hot and steamy in the sugar shack.

    Judy’s last blog post.. Wacky Wednesday!

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  5. Daphne on March 13, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I live in New England and it is maple sugar country so we get some every year. What would pancakes be without real maple syrup? I’ve always wanted to try tapping trees, but I always thought you needed sugar maples. Can you use any maple, or just some varieties? We have friends in Vermont that tap about 50 trees every year. They have a little sugar house where they boil it all down.

    Daphne’s last blog post.. Monday Seedling Update

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    • Susy on March 13, 2009 at 9:34 am

      This is what I found out at the kinds of trees you can tap: The trees suitable for tapping include all of the maple family: sugar, silver and red maples as well as box elder. Sugar maple sap contains the highest concentration of sugar (2% or higher according to weather conditions and the health of the tree). Box Elder produces a weaker sap, but one which is especially delicious to drink as is, tasting like a slightly sweet spring water. Other species of trees which reportedly may be tapped including walnut, hickories, sycamore and sweet birch. Trees to be tapped should be at least 1 1/2 feet in diameter, have large healthy crowns, and be well exposed to the sun.

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  6. Andres Stell on March 13, 2009 at 9:18 am

    That is so cool that you are tapping your own maples. So what are the next steps to make syrup? And love to hear about how that goes with you guys. Thanks.

    Andres Stell’s last blog post.. Snap Pea, Lettuce, Spinach, Chives (garlic & regular), Radishes & Carrots

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    • Susy on March 13, 2009 at 9:36 am

      Next we have to save up the syrup for a few days and then boil it down. You have to boil all the moisture out of it, the sap has around 2% sugar. You have to boil it like crazy for quite a while, I read that the syrup is nearly done when it boils with an oily appearance. The temperature should be between 104 and 106 C.

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  7. Teri on March 13, 2009 at 9:37 am

    My goodness, I want to do it just for the photo possibilities!

    Teri’s last blog post.. 71/365

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  8. Sinfonian on March 13, 2009 at 9:53 am

    Hmm, what’s a maple tree? Hehe. If we have them here, you don’t see them. The evergreens drownd them out. Sounds like a bunch of fun for the whole family though! I too can’t wait to see the results.

    My guess is you reduce it down until it becomes syrup? I doubt you’d add sugar to that. Best of both worlds, a nature lesson and cooking. Now I wish we had some of Maple trees around here.

    Fun post! I didn’t read all the FG threads on it, but your blog entry was a good intro. Thanks!

    Sinfonian’s last blog post.. March 12, 2009

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    • Susy on March 13, 2009 at 6:39 pm

      Yep you just boil and boil until it become syrupy. There’s a certain temp you boil the final syrup to.

      It’s going to be a fun activity. We’re excited about next year because we’ll be more prepared and start earlier. We have been scouting all the rest of the maples around the property and in the woods behind us. Hopefully next year we’ll have 30 or more trees to tap. We should be able to provide enough syrup for our needs.

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  9. Farmgirl_dk on March 13, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Very coo! I’ve read a few blog posts this month on people tapping their Maples, but I hadn’t seen an actual photograph of the “tap” itself until your blog. So, screwing holes into the sides of those trees doesn’t damage them, huh? Can you use the same hole again next year? Sugarcreekstuff ( warns that you should do your ‘boiling down’ outside or else your walls and ceilings will become covered with a sticky muck (not a pleasant image).
    I hope you’ll post pics of your final product (and your pancake breakfast)! :-)

    Farmgirl_dk’s last blog post.. My version of seed swapping

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    • Susy on March 13, 2009 at 6:37 pm

      Nope drilling holes in them doesn’t damage the tree. You’re suppose to take the tap out when the trees bud. They just seal up the hole. I’m pretty sure you have to drill a new hole each year. From photos I’ve seen most people drill them in same vicinity.

      We’re planning on boiling it down over a fire outside. I’ve heard this imparts more flavor. We’ll see, I’ll keep you posted.

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  10. Freija Fritillary on March 13, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Enjoy that maple sugar! What a treat. The maples on our property are too small to tap, but there are some sizeable birch trees, and I read about making birch sugar. It is supposed to have a slightly wintergreen flavor, and used more as a flavoring in deserts than as a sugar.

    Freija Fritillary’s last blog post.. Unfurling their leaves like banners

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  11. Jennifer on March 13, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    We’re going this weekend to Drumlin Farms in Concord, MA – they’re having a pancake breakfast and maple syrup talk – they’ve had the trees tapped for weeks. I’m very excited, and very jealous of your trees! We only have one tree on the apartment’s property, and it’s 1/2 in the neighbor’s property – but at least it’s a Mulberry tree.

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    • Susy on March 13, 2009 at 6:33 pm

      That sounds like fun. I would love to go see a really maple syrup place.

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  12. Pampered Mom on March 13, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Birch syrup would be so neat! I’ve got a recipe that calls for birch syrup to make a fermented type root bear. We’d really like to tap our maple trees, but have held off as I had also heard you’d want to boil it down outside and we don’t as of yet have a way to do that. Love the pictures!

    Pampered Mom’s last blog post.. An Easy (and cheap) Snack!

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    • Susy on March 13, 2009 at 6:32 pm

      I’ll have to see if we have any birch trees. It’s definitely an interesting thing.

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  13. Meg on March 13, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    First….I am *envious* that you can just “run over to Lehman’s” for supplies…..I wish I was that close to them!! This is awesome about the maple syrup making. Please keep us up to date on how the process goes for you,as I am very curious. When I was in Alaska last winter I found out that the Mat-Su Valley up there is birch tree central, there are tons of birches there, and they’re working on making birch syrup a new local agricultural industry speciality up there, which sounds really cool!

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    • Susy on March 13, 2009 at 6:35 pm

      Yes, Lehman’s is very close, we love going there for supplies. I’m planning on buying a few big pickling crocks from them for sauerkraut & pickles this year. They do have the best supplies for people that love doing things like maple sugaring or any other kind of homestead kind of thing.

      I would love to try birch syrup. I don’t know if we have any birch trees. I’ll have to walk around in the woods behind the house to see. If I lived closer to the family hunting cabin I’d tap some hickories & walnut trees to see what that syrup tasted like.

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  14. Dan on March 13, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Very interesting post Susy. I also thought you could only tap sugar maples. We have 10 large norway maples in the back, like a red maple but green. I should try tapping them one season. Please keep use updated on the process.

    Dan’s last blog post.. 2009 Vegetable Varieties Table

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    • Susy on March 14, 2009 at 12:25 am

      A bunch of mine are green red maples as well (actually I think that’s what most of them are).

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  15. Dan on March 13, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    forgot to add, do you take the taps out or leave them in after you are done tapping? If you take them out does the hole cover over quickly?

    Dan’s last blog post.. 2009 Vegetable Varieties Table

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  16. Joe McHale on August 5, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    It is amazing to see the sap start to flow once you tap your trees. Tapping maple trees is a great family activity – kids love it. For more information on how to get started, take a look at

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  17. Elizabeth on February 24, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Our neighbors explained how to do this, and we just tapped out maple trees for the first time! I am so excited to get our own homemade maple syrup!
    Great photos and info, thanks!

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    • Susy on February 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm

      So exciting! We have a few neighbors that are going to be doing it next year too!

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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