When you are starting a feasibility experiment, you don’t want to go whole-hog. The vendors that cater to the maple syrup crowd sort of assume you’re working at a serious production level. We really didn’t need 100 spiles, for instance. So where do you go when you don’t know where to go to shop for something? Amazon!
Here’s a picture of our starter set for gathering syrup. It includes 10 spiles and 10 small tubes for feeding the sap into the jug of your choice and a short instruction page. Of course, one could still go old-school and let the sap dribble into an open bucket, but the tubes allow you to keep the bugs and debris out of the sap and ensures your sap won’t get diluted with rainwater. Rainwater isn’t much of a concern in the northeast, but here in the coastal west, (in a normal year), it’s a serious concern.
Here’s a picture of one of our trees, tapped. We’ve only tapped two so far, one right next to our most-traveled path and one as close to in our stream as we could get without having to clamber into the streambed to collect our sap accumulation. We’re using recycled juice jugs. Milk jugs are also popular for this purpose. Notice that we have drilled a hole into the cap of our jug to isolate the sap from the outside world. The spile is drilled about an inch into the tree on a slight upward angle, as described in our instructions.
So far, we haven’t gathered any product. We have had a paltry amount of rain over the last two weeks, but our maples are remaining steadfastly dormant. I expect they are going to wait as long as possible to bud out so they waste the least amount of water possible in transpiration. Like I said, we have managed to pick the absolute worst year in decades to try out gathering maple sap.
Once again, check out the following links for data on Bigleaf Maple syrup. If you are inspired enough to try it yourself, let is know how it went for you.