Getting Started as a Backyard Maple Syrup Producer

Getting Started as a Backyard Maple Syrup Producer

Maple sugaring can be big business but it is also a wonderful hobby. We have helped many homeowners get started tapping their backyard maple trees and converting sap into delicious maple syrup. Over the years, we have answered many questions from backyard producers. Here are a few to help you get started with your own backyard maple syrup operation:

Q: What types of trees can be tapped?
A: Native maple trees that are at least 10” in diameter may be tapped. The Sugar Maple is preferred for its high sugar content, but the Red Maple is also a popular choice. Black Maples are a good option if they grow in your area.

Q: How do I tap a tree?
A: Make sure the tree is at least 10” in diameter for one tap or 18” in diameter if you plan to use two taps (It is not a good idea to use more than two taps per tree). Don’t place new tap holes within 6 inches horizontally and 2 feet above or below old tap holes. Using a drill bit that matches your tap size, drill straight into the tree to a depth of 1.5” to 2”. Carefully drive a spout into the hole.

Q: Does it matter what I use to collect the sap?
A: Any food grade container can be used to collect sap. DO NOT use plastic containers that are not intended to hold food or that previously held allergens, such as dairy products. Old galvanized metal maple syrup buckets may contain lead. Instead, we recommend lightweight aluminum or plastic buckets. Some backyard producers prefer to use tubing attached to the spout – known as “drops” – that drain into a central 5 gallon bucket to make collection easier.

Q: How much sap can I expect?
A: Some years are better than others. Sap runs with cold nights in the 20’s and daytime temperatures in the 40’s. Generally, you get 8 to 10 runs per season. For each run, one tap will produce about 1 gallon of sap.

Q: What supplies do I need to get started?
A: We’ve provided a shopping list below. We sell all of this equipment on our website, but you may already have items that you can use such as a drill bit and drill, hammer, cleaning brushes, etc.
  • Spouts
  • Drill bit (and drill)
  • Tapping Hammer
  • Buckets/tubing for collection
  • Storage container for sap
  • Evaporator or pan to boil sap (tips on how to size an evaporator)
  • Firing gloves
  • Defoamer (dairy products are not recommended since they contain allergens)
  • Thermometer and/or hydrometer and hydrometer cup
  • Pre-filters and filters
  • Bottles/containers to store the finished syrup
  • Pan cleaner and rubber gloves
  • Cleaning brushes
Questions? Please give us a call at (603) 835-6361 Monday through Friday from 7:30 am – 4:30 pm EST and Saturday 8 am – 12 pm EST.
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