West Coast Maple Syrup

Everyone knows, Canada is the home of maple syrup. Yet, everyone thinks of Ontario and Quebec in connection with maple syrup. There is never any mention of even the possibility of maple syrup being produced in places like British Columbia and in fact, this possibility really exists.

It exists in the form of the Big Leaf Maple growing everywhere on the West Coast.

Big Leaf Maple

Big Leaf Maple

Sometime ago, in one of my ramblings, I mention that I was going to look into tapping some of the local trees.

A bit of research revealed that we, being fortunate enough to live on the West Coast, have a tremendous advantage over our competition of the East.

Not only does the big leaf maple deliver an almost equal sugar content as the eastern sugar maple, but according to some people, the syrup also tastes better.

The other big advantage is the production time. On the West Coast the trees can be tapped in November, as soon as the leafs are off, right through the end of March, when the buds start to open.

This, compared to the east, where there might be some frost free days by February.

Following my decision to do this, I scouted around for some trees to tap and found a couple clumps of maples of the right size (about 6 to 20 inches in diameter) just up the hill from our place.

The access was barred by a solid wall of brambles and I had to cut a trail through to them.

When November rolled around, I bought some taps and plastic tubing on line, charged up my cordless drill, got a hammer and three empty 2 liter honey bottles and tapped the first three trees.

Gear required for taping.

Gear required for taping.

We had four days of frost with no action. When the clouds moved in and the temperature rose, the sap started to run. It ran so hard, the bottles overflowed.

In November bears are supposed to hibernate.

This was one angry bear, he took the bark fight off that tree.

This was one angry bear, he took the bark fight off that tree.

There was one who obviously never got the message. He was still around and got a whiff of all this maple sap. He found the taps and utterly destroyed my whole setup.

I redid one tap with the one bottle left that was not leaking and one day later the bear came back to finish the job.

I had no choice but to wait for him to go away.

In late December I taped four trees, using 2 gallon ice cream buckets I got from a Mac Donald's store.

Two taps feeding into one bucket.

Two taps feeding into one bucket.

There was a brief rise in temperature, which produced about 2 liters of sap. We used this to brew some coffee. It does make first class coffee!

This is the first of January. Frost is on the ground. This means, no sap action. Warmer weather is needed for that.

In the meantime I have to build some sort of fire place in the backyard to do the boiling on.

I will tell you about that, when it is done.

Until then - Happy New Year everyone!

Should you plan to have a look around your own neighborhood for maples to tap, click here to go to my store for outdoor clothes and boots.

Update to this story, March 21. 2016.

Spring has come and with it came the bear. Yes, he is back.

However, this is not my only problem. Somebody, I believe they were kids playing up there in the woods, found my setup, dumped the bucket and took the taps and tubes. It wasn't the bear. He does not have any use for taps and tubes.

The more serious problem is the lack of sap flow. After that first gusher around Christmas and later in January, the flow stopped now for months.

Maybe the sap might return later in the spring, with the temperature rising, but with the kids and the bear around, what is the point?

I took down the remaining taps and quit for this season.

I will try again in the fall with more taps this time - wish me luck!