- Drill (electric or hand-powered) - Fire, stove, or other heat source
- 7/16” drill bit - Large pot or kettle
- Spile w/ - Thermometer
- Hammer - Cheesecloth or other fine filtering medium
- Bucket or collection container
When to Tap: Approximately the end of February, when temperatures are above freezing during the day and below freezing at night.
How to Tap: Find a suitable sugar maple tree with a diameter of at least 12 inches. Using the drill and 7/16” drill bit, make a hole approximately 3 inches deep into the tree at a slight upward angle. Be sure shavings are out of the hole before driving in the spile. Drive the spile (with a hook) gently into the hole with a few firm taps with the hammer. Be careful not to hit so hard as to deform or damage the spile. Hang the bucket or other suitable collection container from the spile’s hook to begin collecting sap.
Gathering Sap: Sap must be collected daily when it is running, and may be stored up to a week in a cool, dark container. If the sap appears cloudy in your buckets or storage vessel, it has spoiled and must be discarded.
Strain and Store: Maple syrup has a natural grittiness that should be filtered out. It is created by naturally occurring minerals present in the sap that solidify and fall out of the sap solution during the boiling process. Strain your syrup through several layers of cheesecloth while the syrup is still hot. Any remaining particles will settle to the bottom of your storage jars. Your syrup will store best in glass jars in the refrigerator.
For more information about making maple syrup, join an upcoming sugaring program at Westmorland Sanctuary on Feb 21, Feb 27, March 7, or March 13. Click here to get program times and details from our website.
-Adam Zorn, Naturalist