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Backyard Sugaring 2011

For the 2011 sugaring season we set up 26 taps (11 buckets & 15 jugs) in early March. We purchased the buckets and lids from a local sugaring house a few years back. Collection jugs were made from recycled & cleaned 1 gallon spring water containers and 1/2 gallon juice and drink containers.

The tap holes were drilled with a 7/16ths inch drill bit to a depth of approx 2". A 7/16th's inch bit was also used to make holes in the jug caps. A short piece of tubing (~ 8 inches) was then used to connect the tap to the jug. One end of the tubing is attached to the tap and the other is inserted into the cap on the collection jug. This system also works with 5/16th's tap. This jug collection system works nicely to keep the sap dirt & bug free. 12 gage wire is manipulated to form an S shaped hook which holds the jug in place.

Sap was collected daily using 5 gallon buckets. The buckets were thoroughly cleaned/rinsed prior to sap collection. Buckets were also rinsed daily after each collection.

Before boiling, sap was filtered using layered cheesecloth and paper napkins. A stainless steel pan (steam table pan) approx 20" x 12" x 7" was used to boil the sap on the barrel stove and then a regular stove pan was used to finish the syrup on the wood stove. We did use the wood stove for boiling and finishing, but the barrel stove worked better to boil the sap down quickly.

The barrel stove was constructed using a food-grade steel barrel and a barrel stove kit (purchased at Tractor Supply). When we assembled the barrel stove we cut a rectangular opening in the top to accommodate the pan. The barrel stove works best when fired up and embers have built up so that smoke is kept to a minimum. Some sort of screen could be used so that ash does not make its way into the boil. The stainless steel pan we used (steam pan) was a little thin and warped a little. We'll get a heavier pan next year.

We guessed when the syrup was done, but need to purchase a candy thermometer to be more accurate. Hot syrup was poured through a fine strainer on top of synthetic filter placed inside a funnel on top of a sterilized 12.5oz screw-cap glass jar.

The taps, buckets, and jugs were removed from the trees on April 2nd. The total sap collected was approximately 70 gallons and it boiled down to 9 12.5 oz jars of syrup.

The buckets and containers were thoroughly cleaned, rinsed, and dried before placing in storage. The buckets are easy to store since they are stackable and lids fit easily into the top bucket in the stack. Plastic jug containers are more difficult to store, but we've created a rack in which the cleaned containers can drip dry and be moved and stored as a unit.