When the nights are still freezing but the days start to thaw, that is the time to harvest sap from your maple to make your own syrup. “I thought you had to have a Sugar Maple?” is usually the first thing people say when I tell them I am making my own syrup from the tree in my yard. This is a quote from Bradford Angier, noted wilderness survivalist and forager, in his book Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants. All the maples have sugar-rich sap, but it is the sugar maple, Acer saccharum, that is by far the most famous for this characteristic. Hmmmm? (That’s right, he said “all”).
So what are you waiting for? You are bound to get something and best of all, it will be yours. You don’t have to be an expert to do this. Just a little research and some cheap tubes, fittings and a clean pail are all you need to start collecting. It takes about 1 gallon of sap to make 1/2 pint of syrup so you need a place to store it until you cook it down. I use empty, cleaned and rinsed plastic milk jugs. When you cook it down it has to be done outdoors on a gas BBQ or camping stove or similar heat source. It produces too much steam for doing it in your home.