How do you juice a tree?

Can you do it? Would you do it?

My son asked me these questions last week. And I said, of yes, yes you can! And oh yes, yes I would!

Yesterday my mother and I walked around her property talking to the old Maple trees and asking their permission to tap them for sweet, healthful sap. They all said yes, all except one. The most ancient tree on our property, the 2nd oldest sugar maple in the state according to a local tree expert, we did not tap out of respect (We call her the Mother Tree), but we did tap her daughter.

Tapping is fun!

This was my first experience with tapping, so I followed all the experts instructions. I bought a 7/16th" drill, and drilled holes at chest height (about 5 feet up), 1.5 inches deep. The whole time, it smelled like crepes, like caramelized sugar wafting from the street vendors in Paris, a fond childhood memory I have from visiting Dad there every year. Mmmmmm.

I positioned the holes under large branches and/or over large roots for optimal sap collection. Next year I will not use the same holes, but tap at least two inches the right or left of them (not above or below, that still uses the same "veins".) The sap began to flow right away. We've been having warm days and cold nights for a week now, which is the best weather for tapping. I had to wait until my taps arrived by mail, though!

I drove the spiles (taps) in by hand,  and hooked on clean gallon jugs to them. That's it! Now I just need to check them and collect the sap every day or two, and begin the boiling process on the wood stove to make syrup. It takes 30-40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup, and I doubt I'll make anywhere near that much. BUT I am planning on drinking the sap (it's naturally sterile, totally filtered, full of minerals and enzymes, and yummy yummy, even tho its just 2-3 % sugar). In Korea they drink the sap as a health ritual every year. And I also want to make Maple Beer and Maple Wine. Yum yum yum. I will include the recipes I have for those and my experience with them when we do that!

All in all we tapped 7 trees, even tho we had taps and 10 jugs, my mother and I aren't sure we can use that much sap! We both have wood stoves and plan on splitting the sap between us. She is very excited, and followed me around holding the jugs on a long rope, declaring how proud she was of her "homesteading, pioneering daughter." LOL. We'll see if said daughter can make some good, consumable items out of this sap before my inner jury decides :)

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