Now comes perhaps my favourite part of making maple syrup, gathering the sap. This part usually happens daily, depending on how well the sap is running. We had three different locations with trees tapped. Grandpa Nutbrown has made a barrel trailer that can be towed by the truck, tractor, or Big Red his old trike. He towed the trailer to the location where the trees are tapped and then we set out with large buckets to the trees. We pull the pails off the tree and empty them into the large buckets. When the large buckets are full, we take them over to the trailer and empty them inside the barrel. As you can probably guess, this part requires a lot of walking and heavy lifting- good exercise!
When we went to collect the sap the first time, Grandpa held the pail up for us to taste the sap. It tastes like watery tea with a hint of sweetness. It is really incredible that it will become such dark, sweet syrup. I wonder who first came up with this?
There is something very satisfying about filling up your bucket full of sap. And it is so nice to be outside in the sunshine with the birds chirping. I'm hooked. It is just too bad that there are no maples out West!
Grandpa Nutbrown likes it when he goes to collect sap after a very cold night and there is a layer of ice on the top of the pail. This ice is just water - none of the good sap is frozen in this ice so you can just chuck it away. It makes the boiling process go faster if you can get a bit more water out at this stage.
Once the sap is collected, it needs to be stored out of heat and sunlight if you are not boiling it right away. The sun will turn the sap yellow and sour and it will be no good to make syrup with.
Once you have some sap collected, the next step is boiling it down.
Also take a look at: