Maine Maple Sugaring

by Peter Patenaude on March 5, 2013

Every season has its purpose, and March is for maple sugaring. Although we have had recent snow, the temperatures are perfect for the sap to run; winter during the night and spring during the day. We are a small operation, tapping only enough for twelve months of syrup, and yesterday we opened our last jar. This year, we intend on increasing our production, so taking out an old hand drill, I bored seven tap holes at an upward angle into three trees, making sure they were free of any debris.

A stream soon ran out of each maple like a dammed up beaver pond just gave way. Catching some in my hand, I tasted the first drops of pure sap this year– I have always been tempted to take a full glass of the sugary water until I remind myself to wait for the delicious, finished product. After hanging up the pails, I stopped to listen as it sounded like the trees were playing small instruments. I am hopeful that my next weekend will be spent boiling down, and sipping the final stages of our natural, homemade candy.

Maine Maple Sunday, March 24, 2013, Outdoor Blog, Tapping Sugar Maples, Hand Drill, Maple Sugaring, Syrup, Traditional Skills, Sap Buckets, Spout, North Woods, Homemade Evaporator

Maine Maple Sunday, March 24, 2013, Outdoor Blog, Tapping Sugar Maples, Hand Drill, Maple Sugaring, Syrup, Traditional Skills, Sap Buckets, Spout, North Woods, Homemade Evaporator

Maine Maple Sunday, March 24, 2013, Outdoor Blog, Tapping Sugar Maples, Hand Drill, Maple Sugaring, Syrup, Traditional Skills, Sap Buckets, Spout, North Woods, Homemade Evaporator

Maine Maple Sunday, March 24, 2013, Outdoor Blog, Tapping Sugar Maples, Hand Drill, Maple Sugaring, Syrup, Traditional Skills, Sap Buckets, Spout, North Woods, Homemade Evaporator

Maine Maple Sunday, March 24, 2013, Outdoor Blog, Tapping Sugar Maples, Hand Drill, Maple Sugaring, Syrup, Traditional Skills, Sap Buckets, Spout, North Woods, Homemade Evaporator

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Claude March 8, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Well that takes me back, I’ve not seen a metal tap and bucket used for collecting Maple sap since I went on a school trip to a sugaring farm back in the late Seventies. All the farms in my area now use those unsightly plastic pipe & pump systems.

I’d love to see some pictures of your boiling system, and the final product of course.

Claude

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Peter Patenaude March 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Claude- There is certainly something to be said for the metal buckets.
Hopefully you will be seeing that on Monday or Tuesday.

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Elizabeth March 7, 2013 at 10:24 am

Peter,
I am glad to hear you will be making more maple syrup and would love to get hold of a sample for myself
I’ve tried you maple syrup once before and it was delicious

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Peter Patenaude March 7, 2013 at 10:52 am

Elizabeth- You will absolutely get a sample of syrup.
Thank you- all of the credit belongs to the sugar maples.

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alan March 6, 2013 at 9:13 pm

The wife and I were out today scouting a new stream when we came upon several trees that were tapped. The sap was running fine.
Nice post

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Peter Patenaude March 6, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Thank you Alan. I hope that the new stream was worth the exploration- maybe you will meet the syrup maker and have a chance to sample.

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Mike Webber March 6, 2013 at 4:27 pm

That’s awesome Peter..lightens my spirit to see the sap running..can spring be far behind now?

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Peter Patenaude March 6, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Mike- Winter seems to be slipping away fast, and there is no better way to send it off than by watching the sap boil over a campfire.

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walt March 6, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Peter,
This is the old way, my favorite way of collecting sap. A small operation using iron spiles and metal buckets, boiling off using left-over wood. Quite sweet!

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Peter Patenaude March 6, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Walt- It is the way I prefer to do things.
Quite sweet indeed!

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Quill Gordon March 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I like your old school-style. I took a brace & bit with me last week and everyone had a good laugh. It also looks warmer in Maine and you have a lot less snow. Good sugaring!

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Peter Patenaude March 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Thank you Quill- For me, it is a nicer way of doing things. This time of year the temperatures change day to day, and as I write to you now, the weather has gone from snow, to rain, to a mix. Thank you and good luck to you as well!

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Beth March 6, 2013 at 11:44 am

Il take a 1/2 gallon please!

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Peter Patenaude March 6, 2013 at 11:57 am

Beth- That is quite the request!

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The Reverend Fowl March 6, 2013 at 11:40 am

Thought you were running that drill kittywampus at first.
See you when you are out of the bush and back from camp.

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Peter Patenaude March 6, 2013 at 11:59 am

Reverend- I must say that I have never seen that word before.
It would be nice to be at camp, but these trees are local.

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Aunt Pauline March 6, 2013 at 9:42 am

I can’t seem to graduate past Log Cabin Syrup, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I’ve tried liking the real thing, but I don’t. Looks like fun though.

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Peter Patenaude March 6, 2013 at 9:53 am

Pauline- Breaking that habit would be like switching from cream and sugar coffee to black; it will take a week or two but then you will never go back.

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OutdoorEnvy March 6, 2013 at 9:15 am

That sounds really good. It’s been awhile since I’ve had homemade maple syrup. Wish I lived down the street from ya Peter :)

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Peter Patenaude March 6, 2013 at 9:29 am

It is the best kind of syrup OE. Company is always welcomed on the boiling days!

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kim March 6, 2013 at 12:52 am

I have always wanted to see that done. Does it take long to cook down?

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Peter Patenaude March 6, 2013 at 9:26 am

Kim- It usually takes me 4 or 5 hours to boil down 20-25 gallons of sap, which will make half a gallon of syrup.

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Harry McKenney March 5, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Last week in my quest to stop using sugar in my coffee I tried a teaspoon of real maple syrup and it was great! I had tried honey in the past but did not care for it. So I patiently wait for a half a pint of “Pete’s Pure Pleasure Maple Syrup” that will treat up to 128 cups of my Green Mountain coffee that I will be drinking out of my L.L. Bean mug.

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Peter Patenaude March 5, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Harry- Maple syrup is certainly a great sweetener to use instead of sugar, I’ll be sure to send you some.

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John Delaney March 5, 2013 at 9:27 pm

I grew up in northern Wisconsin collecting sap. Running through crusty snow from tree to sleigh, as a horse drawn dray, loaded with several milk cans, crept slowly through the maple woods.

Then back to the cook shanty to unload and fill a flat vat (1x3x6 ft).

If lucky, it was the last trip with time to watch as the sap steamed over a wood fire and cooked down to reveal its secret golden sweetness!

Thanks for the memory!~

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Peter Patenaude March 5, 2013 at 10:38 pm

John- I am glad that the post could bring back such a wonderful memory for you, it sounds idyllic.

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Peter Rodrigue March 5, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Probably should try some of your maple syrup before I comment further. A pint will do nicely….

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Peter Patenaude March 5, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Peter- I’ll bring the syrup if you make the coffee and pancakes!

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