Most great ideas start small. That’s how Katie and Ben Reneker, founders of the Carmel Berry Company, started out handcrafting small batches of syrups and cordials with elderberries or elderflowers wild-harvested or grown on their small farm.
Tapping maple trees for home production is practical and productive. Even in the lower Midwest, tapping as few as three trees can produce much of a household’s year-round maple needs. Although fully concentrating sap into syrup takes significant time and attention, it’s also possible to preserve sap at a lower concentration with far less work, using it year-round as a refreshing drink.
Though sap flow occurs in a wide variety of trees, there is one variety that produces a sap sweeter than them all: The Sugar Maple. For a six-week window of time before the break of spring, the sugar maple flows. The sap can be tapped, and then boiled down on a wood burning stove at home to make golden, luscious homemade maple syrup.
But it doesn’t have the cloying sweetness of sugar-added syrups, plus the pears give the syrup an earthy flavor base. Combine autumn’s apples and pears to make a versatile natural sweetener, with no sugar added. Find out what apple-pear syrup tastes like, where to find it and how to make your own at home.
Sugar maple is not the only tree that produces abundant sap in late winter and early spring. Sycamore; black walnut; paper, black, and yellow birch trees; and all maples trees can be tapped for their sap.
However, some are sweeter than others. Here are lessons for backyard maple tapping and things to consider before beginning to make your own maple syrup.
This article will answer common questions about collecting maple sap and making maple syrup. It will walk the beginner through the first steps of gathering tapping supplies, drilling the taphole, and getting started on becoming a sugarmaker.