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To start tapping you will need a drill, drill bit, taps, and sap buckets. The standard size drill bit is 7/16 in. Auger bits work best. Get lids for your buckets.
Find a mature maple tree. A mature tree is at least 30 inches around. If you find a tree 64-79 inches you can put 2 taps on it and if you have one larger than 79 inches you can put up to three on it without harming the tree. Never put more than 3 taps on a tree. If the tree is to young you can damage it. Drill your hole 4 to 5 feet off the ground and in about 2 inches. Slant your hole slightly upward.
I prefer to use steel taps but there are different types of taps
to use. There are plastic taps that are designed so that you can hook
hoses up to them and run lines straight from a tree to a sap house.
There are steel taps designed to hang a bucket from and collect the
sap daily. People also whittle their own from sticks of maple.
Now insert your tap by twisting back and forth to create
suction to keep the tap from falling out. If using steel taps put your
hanger on and hang your bucket. Make sure you put a lid on your
bucket because deer and other animal love the taste of the sugar water.
If they find it once they know where it is they'll find it again.
I recommend collecting your sap daily, especially if it was a cold night and a sunny morning. Also if a deer has found your bucket they may have knocked it on to the ground or sideways so that the sap won't fall in the bucket. When collecting put your sap into one bucket and store the it in a cold place if your not going to boil it down right off. boil sap weekly at the least or it will go sour.
When boiling sap it's better to have a place outside to boil or a sugar shack to boil in. The moisture that your boiling out of the sap will make everything sticky. If boiling on a wood stove you should have a stove and a pan made up for your boiling. To get the most heat and the quickest boiling time you should have a stove with a cut out in the top so that the pan can sit down inside of it. This way the pan is on the fire and you won't have as much heat loss as you would if you were to set the pan on top of the stove.
Dump your sap into the pan but don't fill it all the way or it will boil over. Through out your boiling don't let the sap get below 1 in. deep or it may scorch. Keep pouring in sap as it boils down. Your syrup is done when it has a sugar percentage of 66 or 67 at about 219 degrees. If syrup is boiled above 67 percent sugar content then the syrup will crystallize. To find out the sugar content percentage you can buy a hydrometer to test it.
After you have boiled all your sap strain it through cheese cloth and into containers. Straining it will filter all the sediment that was in the sap and keep it out of your bottles. Then you can store your containers after it has cooled to room temperature.
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