In our quest to live a self reliant lifestyle at the wilderness homestead, my wife, dog and I harvest sap from the forest around the log cabin and make maple syrup, one of the most accessible and abundant wild edibles in this area. Maple syrup can be processed using primitive skills, but this year, we use more traditional methods, inserting metal spiles into the maple trees and collecting the sap in metal buckets. We harvest the sap when the temperature is above freezing and boil it over an open fire in stainless steel pans.

Wild edibles in the Canadian wilderness are hard to come by, especially in the winter and early spring. Maple sap starts to run as soon as the daytime temperatures rise above 0C (32 Fahrenheit) and the night temperatures dip below freezing. It is slightly sweet and very refreshing when you drink it pure right out of the tree, but in order to make it into a syrup that stores for a long time withough going bad, you have to reduce it by about 40/1. Therefore, it takes 40 gallons of sap from a sugar maple tree to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup. You can harvest and consume sap from other trees, like other maple species and birch trees, but it's not quite as sweet and the ratio is not as good, approximately 60/1 in some cases.
Because spring has been cold this year, we have only harvested about 35 gallons of sap from 25 trees as of the date this video is published. Typically, we should have much more than that and should get hundreds of gallons. April may be better in the coming days for production however.
If we had more pails and spiles, which we can purchase relatively cheaply, we could tap at least a few hundred trees on our property. While the land here is not very productive for growing crops or other wild edibles, we could potentially produce enough syrup to barter and/or sell to offset our other food costs and to procure other foods that we cannot grow or harvest here. Realistically, we could harvest from the property in abundance – sap, mushrooms, raspberries, chaga, spruce tips, cattails and a few minor plant species as well as wild game, such as ducks, geese, bear, deer, moose, rabbit, raccoon, grouse, woodcock, frogs and turtles.

Links to products I use at the cabin;

Dog bowl –

Coffee grinder –

Pancake Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 TSP baking powder
1 TSP salt
1 TBSP maple sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 TBSP melted butter

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Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 20042
Barrie, Ontario
L4M 6E9

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