Tap Ten Trees the Easy Way with the Taps & Tubes Kit.
Talk about easy, peasy, lemon squeezy! The Taps & Tube Kit has already done half of the work for you – 5/16” spiles are connected to the tubes which are cut to length and ready to go. All you really need to do is drill the hole, insert the tap, and thread the tubing into your bucket or jug.
You will need to provide your own bucket or milk jug to collect the sap and it’s best if you use something with a lid. We used a food-grade, five-gallon bucket with a resealable lid and just drilled a hole (with our same tapping drill) into the lid. You can also use a cleanwater or milk jug and drill a hole through the lid. You can buy brand new buckets on this website but you could also check with local bakeries, delis, or restaurants to see if they have lidded buckets to share. But the buckets must be clean and free of odor – don’t even think of using a pickle bucket!! – any leftover odors or even a miniscule tinge of dish soap will be absorbed by your sap and ruin your syrup’s flavor.
A few hints we learned along the way: Keep your tubing on a straight path to the bucket – dips and sags allow sap to sit in the low spot which lead to hard-to-clean bacterial growth. Also, before you choose your taphole location, make sure your jug or bucket sits on a level spot on the ground, not the snow and make sure the tubing will reach it! We didn’t account for the snow melt when we first did this and by the end of the season we had to bring bricks out to prop up our buckets. Make sure, too, that your bucket or jug is sitting on solid (not slippery) ground so it won’t slide or tip over once it gets full of sap. With our bucket, we put a rock on top of the lid just for extra stability.
You’ll need to come out once a day to your sugarbush to empty the buckets. With this system, you have a couple options: a) use two “rotating” buckets or jugs for each tapline – just transfer the tubing each day to the new bucket and bring the full bucket home or b) bring a separate transfer bucket to each tree and pour the sap into this main container.
Once you’re done tapping for the season, it’s important to wash all your equipment. Buckets and jugs – if being saved for next year – should be rinsed thoroughly with warm water and NO dish soap. Tubing presents a bit more of a challenge and most sugarmakers use a weak bleach solution to clean the tubing. To clean your tubing: mix one part unscented, regular household bleach (not commercial strength) with 20 parts hot water and force this solution through the entire tube while plugging one end. Be sure the tubing is filled and let the solution sit in the tube for a day or two. Thoroughly rinse your equipment afterward so no traces of bleach remain. Rinse again at the beginning of the next season. When using tubing, some producers let the first sap of the season run onto the ground just to make sure any traces of bleach are removed.
Everything you need to know about tapping trees and making syrup is included in the book that comes with each kit. You can also download an electronic version from the website.