Maple Sugaring from Scratch: Sumac Spiles

Sumac-GroveLast year I had a lot of fun experimenting with maple sap in the kitchen.  We made sap tea, sap beer, sap poached sweet potatoes, sap soda, and maple baked beans… mmm!  I had borrowed buckets and spiles from neighbors to tap several trees with the students in my after school program.  We harvested more than enough sap to taste test, boil down, and cook with.

This year I missed having  sap to cook with, so I decided to try to tap a maple in our yard without buying any supplies.  Buckets or milk jugs are pretty easy to find around the house.  What I really needed was a spile, or tap.  Using a method common before metal was widely available, I hollowed out the inside of a sumac branch.

Sumac-BerriesStaghorn sumac is a common small tree in eastern North America.  It has big red clusters of seeds that have a great sour flavor and can be used to make tea or a locally sourced substitute for lemonade.  The centers of its branches are very pithy, making them easy to hollow out and make tubing or spouts.

hollowed-tubeMaking sumac spiles was easy, but it went below freezing and I have yet to see if they work well.  With forecasted temperatures above freezing during the day and below freezing at night, sap will flow and I’ll find out soon!  For more detailed instructions for how to tap a tree at home or school, check out this blog post.  For games and activities to liven up and inform the process for elementary school students, check out this blog post.

Cut-into-segments

Poke-out-pith

taper-one-end

tapping-maple-home

 

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This entry was posted in Children and Nature, Personal Sustainability: How-To, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Maple Sugaring from Scratch: Sumac Spiles

  1. jolynnpowers says:

    you are just having to much fun… we will be heading to a Maple syrup festival in a couple of weeks maybe by then we will all enjoying smell of water maple sap.

  2. Pingback: DIY Maple Sugaring | GrowingStories

  3. Pingback: Tapping Time | GrowingStories

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