Ooh, my first post in the cooking forum!
I had to show off my batch of homemade black walnut syrup.
I had wanted to make maple syrup, but don't have a maple tree in my yard. But I learned the little-known fact that you can tap and make syrup from black walnut trees! (I think you can also tap birch trees.) So I tapped my black walnut tree and here are my results.
First, here's a pic of the finished product. The garden gnome seems to approve of the golden syrupy goodness:
I had a nicer collection vessel for the sap (an official maple sap collection plastic bag) but the bag sprung a leak, so I have gone with a free low-tech replacement, a gallon milk jug. My syruping book, called "Back Yard Sugarin'" by Rink Mann, calls the milk jugs "Idlenot Dairy Low Fat Sap Buckets" which cracks me up.
I won't reinvent the wheel with a huge tute, because there are lots of good instructions for tapping trees for making syrup. Here's a good link: http://ohioline.osu.edu/for-fact/0036.html
And here is a link to the book I have: http://www.amazon.com/Backyard-Sugarin-Complete-How-Guide/dp/0881502162/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269793990&sr=8-1
Basically, you tap a tree, collect the sap, then boil the sap down to the desired sugar content. Syrup needs boil at a temperature that's 7 degrees fahrenheit higher than the temp at which water boils. This temp can vary from day to day due to barometric pressure, so you'll want to boil a small pot of water, measure that temp, and then make sure your syrup boils 7 degrees higher than that. If you can't boil your sap the same day, keep it cool, because it can spoil just like milk. I kept mine in the fridge for about 5 days, until I had enough to make it worth boiling.
Here are a few pics from the tree, showing the spout in the tree, and my fancy sap bucket. About 2 gallons of sap boiled down to a pint of syrup. I feel quite proud of myself knowing I have my own stash of homemade syrup to enjoy this year, and it was fun including my 3 year-old son in the process.