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Maple Syrup Tree Tapping

Maple Syrup Tapping Trees in Wisconsin

Maple Syrup Tree Tapping

Today, we are maple syrup tree tapping. I thought spring was supposed to be here already in the Midwest, at least the calendar states it is.  I like to see the snow come; but also quickly go.

This year it is hanging around longer than I care to see. We have to keep ourselves busy while we are waiting!

Back in 2013 our daughter wanted to go and try her hand at maple syrup tree tapping. I did a search and couldn’t find many places that we could witness, or even participate in the process.

How Do You Make Maple SyrupI Found Somewhere to Go

I did find one place. Brillion Nature Center in Brillion, WI.  By chance, I stumbled on an events page they had posted online. This would allow her to try her hand at tapping trees and also give us a behind the scenes look at processing maple syrup.

Brillion State Wildlife Area

I have to say the people who run this wildlife place are some of the kindest people I have met.


Google Map Location

AddressW1135 Deerview Rd, Brillion, WI 54110

I suggest calling to check if they will continue this activity additional years.

We Learned a Lot 

I found out that maple syrup is produced only where the sugar maple is found which is in the northeastern United States and in Eastern Canada.

Parts of a treeWhat Kind of Maples To Tap
Any variety of maple trees: red maples, sugar, silver and even boxelder.  They did say some people tap sweet birch, walnut, hickory and sycamore, which I had never heard of.

Tapping The Trees
In Wisconsin we don’t start tapping until March. The flow of sap is highly dependant upon weather conditions.  The flow usually lasts roughly three weeks.


Come Along With Us On a Tour

As a general rule of thumb maple syrup tapping starts around March 1st.


Drilling Hole in Maple Tree to Collect Sap

My daughter learning how to drill into tree for inserting the maple syrup taps into the tree.

Step 1 – Locate your maple tree.  About 3 feet up from the ground drill a 1-1/2″ hole using a 3/8″ drill bit into the tree at an upwards angle. When you pull your drill out your will notice some moisture. That is a good sign.


Hammer a spile with an eye hook attached into the freshly drilled hole. Hammer flush with the lip of the spile facing down.Installing the tap. You hit the tap one time – rather hard to insert it into your drill hole.

Step 2 – Hammer a spile with an eye hook attached into the freshly drilled hole. Hammer flush with the lip of the spile facing down.


Tapped Tree that Fell DownThis is a tree that fell down last spring. The rectangle outlines in the flesh are previous tapping years. You want to be sure to space your taps out to keep your tree healthy.

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Bags Collecting Sap on Maple TreeAfter stalling the tree taps, you can place a bag on the tap.
Step 3 – Hang the collection bucket or bag on the spile.

Bucket on Maple TreesOr a bucket. Heck, anything clean that will hold the running sap will work.

Bucket Collecting Maple Syrup Sap


Check your buckets throughout the day. The time it takes to collect depends on the temperature outside and how fast the tree runs.

Step 4 – Collect the sap, checking your collection bin often. The sap is a clear liquid and will not become brown in color until heated.


This is what the sap looks like when collected. Notice it is a clear liquid. When you taste the liquid it is only mildly sweet.This is what the sap looks like when collected. Notice it is a clear liquid. When you taste the liquid it is only mildly sweet.

With the liquid you can boil the syrup down to a hard rock candy.

Maple Syrup Rock Candy

The clear tree sap is a mixture of water, sugar, salt and minerals. It is evaporated to make a concentrated liquid, known as maple syrup.

Storing Syrup Until You Have Time To Process
Once you have a fair amount it is off to turn it into maple syrup.  You can store the sap at 40-45 degrees until you are ready.


Making Maple Syrup

Making the Syrup
Now, I can’t be much help to those of you wishing to make your own at home from this point forward because we used a commercial fire evaporator.

I can tell you that you need to start off slow as not to burn the sappy water and you need to boil it hot for the moisture to evaporate. The syrup will look oily when it is ready and be between 104 C – 106 C.

You let it cool and then you are set. If you want, you could make a form of crystallized maple. By cooling it down extremely quick, like the Native Americans had done to transport it easily.

Ice Cream with Fresh Maple SyrupI enjoyed mine in liquid form over ice cream. YUM!

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