Maple Syrup Supplies: Tapping Your Own Maple Trees

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Maple syrup time is on its way, and I couldn’t be more excited. Every year, Andrew and I tap our own trees, and we’ve spent time trying different maple syrup supplies to figure out what we like.

The first time my husband tapped our maple trees, he whittled taps out of large sticks – seriously! I didn’t have faith that it would work, but sure enough, it did!

Now, we’ve invested in some maple syrup supplies that make our life easier aka no more whittling.

If you’re interested in learning how to make maple syrup at home, you have to gather the supplies and identify your maple trees. Then, you’ll be ready to go!

Gathering Maple Syrup Supplies

Picking Maple Taps

Maple Syrup Taps

Maple taps, also called spiles, are what connects into the maple trees and lets the sap flow out freely. There are two different types of maple taps that you might like – homemade, wooden ones NOT included!

  • Metal Taps: Metal taps come in a variety of shapes and materials. Some are made of aluminum, and others are made out of stainless steel. Some have a hook or a fin that lets you hang a bucket from the taps.
    • Most metal taps come in 7/16″ size, but you might prefer to look for 5/16″ taps. These are called tree saver taps because the smaller hole means the sap doesn’t flow out as quickly. That’s a good thing to the trees, cuainsg less damage.
  • Plastic Taps: Many newbies prefer to start off with plastic maple taps because they’re cheaper. You can get a 25-pack for less than $30, making them a painless investment. Plastic taps can break easier, so many only last one season.
    • Many plastic taps are 5/16″, and most are bucket taps. You can find taps that work with tubing instead!

Either choice is fine. We prefer metal taps now because I like to purchase once. If you’re not sure if you want to do it again next year, plastic might be your best bet. You can get double the amount of taps for the same price (give or take a few dollars) if you pick plastic!

Tubing, Buckets, or Both?

Maple Syrup Buckets

Next, you have to decide if you want tubing, buckets, or both. You might decide you want to use both, depending on your situation. Both types have pros and cons!

  • Tubing: My husband like tubing because it does keep the bugs out. Granted, you will filter the sap at some point, so it doesn’t truly matter. Tubing is cheaper, and you can connect sap lines from tree to tree, leading to a final destination. That’s convenient! However, tubing is made of plastic, which some people prefer to avoid. Plastic wears down over time, so you’ll need to replace the tubes over time.
  • Buckets: I might be the emotional type – OK, I am – but there is something so nostalgic about walking around collecting buckets of sap. I feel so Little House in the Big Woods type. The snow under your boots, the kids stumbling behind. It’s nice. Buckets aren’t cheap unless you want to use plastic, food-grade buckets. Some don’t like plastic though! Metal buckets will last a lifetime, and you can get lids for them, but expect to pay with several organs.

If you do decide to go with the tubes, you have to decide what will collect the sap at the end of the tubs. Will you use a large, metal pot? Or, will you use large, food-grade buckets?

Some like the 5-gallon buckets that have lids and a spot to insert the tubing. That’s the best of both worlds!

Consider a Backyard Tree Tapping Kit

If you just want to tap a few trees, a kit may be a cheaper option for you. You get a little bit of everything in the kits!

We like the kit by Maple Tapper. You get 10 3-foot drop lines, 10 5/16 plastic taps, two one-quart filters, and directions. If you’re just starting off, the Maple Tapper gives you almost everything you need aside from the equipment to cook the sap down.

Additional Supplies Need to Make Maple Syrup

You have your taps, and you picked between tubing or buckets, but you aren’t finished yet! There are a few other supplies you need to make maple syrup at home.

  • A cordless drill: Make sure you have it fully charged before you get to work!
  • The correct sized drill bit. It will depend on whether you used a 5/16 or a 7/16 tap. Pick the correct drill bit!
  • Containers to hold your sap. Some people love food-grade 5-gallon buckets with lids. Depending on how many trees you’re tapping, you might end up with several gallons of sap per day. We use food-grade buckets personally that we got from my family’s restaurant!
  • Filters to strain the sap and/or the finished maple syrup. You can try to use coffee filters, but trust me, they are a pain in the butt. I like a cone-style filter with a stand. A stand isn’t a necessity, but it does help prevent failure issues.
  • Somewhere to cook the sap. This could be over an open fire or over an outside, propane burner. I recommend NOT doing it inside your house because sap needs to boil for hours and hours. You will want to bring the syrup inside for the final processing so that you can watch it closely. The only bad thing about using propane is that it can get costly to boil hundreds of gallons with it, but it’s another alternative to open flame.
  • A large pot to boil the sap
  • A candy thermometer. You will need to check the temperature of the sap as it boils. Sap needs to reach the right temperature to turn into syrup. That’s when the magic really happens!
  • Maple syrup containers for the finished product

I also highly suggest you pick up a few books about maple syrup making. It’ll help you understand the steps and make it less complex.

Some people think that you NEED an evaporator. Truth be told, my husband and I had no idea that was a thing when we first started. You absolutely can use an evaporator if you want. However, we pick not to and use the propane burners or an open fire.

Ashley at Practical Self Reliance shows six ways to make maple syrup without an evaporator. Check it out if you’re interested!

To dive more into the topic of whether or not you need an evaporator, Carrie at The Happy Hive Homestead looks at whether it’s cost effective to make maple syrup on a propane grill. I highly suggest you do some research and decide what method you want to try before you purchase all of your supplies.

It’s Time to Get Started!

Now that you have your supplies on hand, it’s time to get started! Stay tuned for the next part that will give you some helpful tips and tricks for a successful maple syrup season!

This post is part of my self-reliance challenge. Make sure you check out all of the participants for the Self-Reliance Challenge 2019.

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6 thoughts on “Maple Syrup Supplies: Tapping Your Own Maple Trees

  1. I wish I had enough trees and land for this. My cousins run a sugar bush in western NY and they give me all the maple syrup I want! I am so lucky!!!

  2. Hi Bethany,
    I love maple syrup and use it all the time as a natural sweetener. We don’t have any maple trees on our small piece of land so we have to buy it. I buy organic. I find it very interesting to read exactly how you tape the trees and all. You explained it so well and thoroughly. I love the pictures too.

  3. I’ve wondered if this is something I can do here on the western oregon coast. We don’t get super cold temperatures though, so I’m not sure if it would work. However, I have heard of people making syrup with big leaf maple trees here in the PNW, so maybe I’ll have to try it sometime!

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