Thursday, March 10, 2011

Any one up for sinzibukwud?

Sinzibukwud...the Algonquin word (and also Cree) for maple sugar.
Just in case you didn't know.
(I didn't until I read the handouts I got from our field trip.)

To tap a tree you don't need fancy equipment...
You don't have to spend money on buckets or spiles.  
Everything needed to tap a tree, I found in my house.
A drill fitted with a bit.
A gallon milk container.
A nail and hammer.
A drinking straw (about 1/3 per tree.)
(A big bucket may come in handy too.)

In order to keep the trees healthy, there are a few ground rules.
Only drill to 1 3/4 inches depth.
I put a rubber band on my bit in order to make sure.

Only tap trees that are over 36 inches around at 52 inches above ground level.
For every 15 or so inches further around, you can add a tap.

So then we went to our neighbor's yard (yes, we asked permission first.)
We drilled a hole in 3 trees.
It's amazing how hard maple wood is.
Smoke started coming from the bit and when the cold sap touched it, we heard sizzles.
After the holes were made, we put one of the plastic drinking straws into the hole.
As you can see from the picture, sap was already dripping down the bark.

Next, we put a nail in the tree about an inch above the "spile."
Then two holes were placed in the milk jug.
The top one holds the jug to the tree via the nail.
The second allows the spile to pour cold crisp sweet tree sap into the jug.

This morning I went to the tree to see how much sap we had collected over night.
About 1 cup.
Since sap only runs when the night is below freezing and the day is above freezing this was pretty good.
Last night wasn't even freezing.
This week, the days are supposed to be warm and the nights below freezing.
I can't wait until we get some more sap.

I also got a great tip from the field trip.
Place the sap in the freezer or outside on a freezing night.
In the morning you should have a layer of ice on top.
Throw it out.
It is just water ice, and it will save about an hour of boiling off time.


  1. That is so neat! Freezing nights are very rare here or else I would be outside with a drill right now. What do you do with the sap once it's collected? Does it have to be boiled or is it ready to go?

  2. That's a tale for another day! You didn't think I'd leave you hanging with a gallon of sap did you?

  3. I can't wait to see how this goes. I have though about it, but you need so much sap to get a small amount of syrup, I talked myself out of it. Maybe I will do it next year if it goes well for you.

  4. I am so envious! If I didn't mind waiting for a dozen or so years for it, I'd plant some sugar maples. I adore maple syrup by any name. ;)

  5. SO cool - reminds me of Little House in the Big Woods! I always wanted to tap sugar maples and boil it off like the Ingalls did. YuM! I'm jealous! We don't really have maple trees here in Colorado.


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