Here Comes the Sun - and soon the SAP of 2021!

by Don 2/26/2021 3:52:00 PM

  This is the time of year that I start singing this Beatle's song, notice a quickening in my pace, and appreciate the coming of a new syruping season. 

  The isolation during this COVID-19 period has given us generous time to almost leisurely prepare for this season. All 1200 taps are in, due in large part to our son, Peter, and grandchildren, Jack and Greta. The equipment is all operational and has been shined to showroom condition. 

  We have culled some of the aging trees that have suffered the consequences of multiple years of excess moisture.  Turnover in the forest is expected, but much like the Big Woods of Nerstrand State Park, in southern Minnesota, we have seen more trees dying or looking stressed. We still have a robust forest of maple, and the thinning of trees allows some of the younger maples to flourish.

  We continue to practice the annual replacement of spiles and any drop lines that have squirrel damage. Producers who don't replace spiles each year see reduced yield, due to bacteria on the old spile. This stimulates the tree to begin the healing process prematurely at the tap hole.  Once again, adoption of best practices provides us with the greatest opportunity for a superior product. 

  We turn on the vacuum system whenever the temperature reaches 32 degrees. Even though we have hit 40 degrees for short periods, the first flows are delayed and more of a trickle. After a slight dip in temperatures this weekend, a warmup is forecast, which looks very favorable for sap flow. Last year our first boil of sap was March 6th, so we're right on track.

  If you are thinking of tapping some maples in your yard, I would do it now.

  Recheck this blog for updates on our syrup season!


Fini, Complete, Through, End!

by Don 4/15/2020 3:06:00 PM

Whatever word we choose, the result remains the same. The 2020 maple syrup season at Somerskogen has come to an end. Our last collection of sap was on April 6th, exactly one month after our first collection of the season. 

We made our last syrup on April 7th, finishing with 643 gallons of syrup on 1200 taps. As the season progressed, we noted a drop in the sugar content of the sap from 2% to 1.4%, which then required 61 gallons of sap to make one gallon of finished syrup. If not for our reverse osmosis , which removes 75% of the water before we start boiling, the last day would have been beyond tedious! All of this year's maple syrup was very full-flavored and the majority is designated Amber Rich - "amber" for the color and "rich" for the taste.

As I mentioned, we set a new record of 643 gallons and it was a test of our system, as Mary and I handled the season amid the social distancing required during the pandemic. Family and friends were unable to join us in what is usually a joyful, communal season of syrup!

All of our taps have been removed and preliminary cleanup is underway. We find we save the outdoor tasks for the glorious warm, sunny days of April (when they appear!)

We have received a record number of orders, perhaps because people across the nation have been enjoying forced eating at home.   We also received  orders from Colorado after a television station aired the Somerskogen feature made by Ron Shara Productions - known around Minnesota as Minnesota Bound. In Colorado it was aired on the outdoor show "Due North". This was quite a surprise and we were happy to hear Colorado heard about Somerskogen Sugarbush!

We hope you are able to remain healthy, as we remain in the Twilight Zone, caused by the pandemic. We are ready and able to ship maple syrup at this time, so place your orders soon. We have the 2020 season bottled up in plastic pints, quarts, half-gallons and gallons, so you can enjoy the 2020 vintage - probably the best tasting maple syrup we've produced. We'll be bottling more of the 2020 season in the next few weeks.

We look forward to keeping in touch with you! Thanks for reading the Somerskogen blog this spring! 

Solen er oppe!

by Don 4/4/2020 10:17:00 AM






The above is a Norwegian toast to the sun that our family has done over the years before going out fishing, skiing, or various family events. 

Today is a perfect day for the salute! The bright sun, without a cloud in the sky, is piercing through all parts of our forest, and waking up the maple trees for what will be our last weekend of the 2020 maple syrup season.. The future forecast predicts weather in the 60's next week- nice to be outside, but easy spoiling of sap with such warm weather.

On March 31st we shattered our previous record of 545 gallons of syrup set 3 seasons ago. We anticipate making another 40-60 gallons of delicious syrup tomorrow, and/or the next day.  We have made the first Dark Robust syrup of the season as the warmer days have encouraged microbial action on the sucrose sugar to break it down to glucose and fructose.  These two sugars caramelize easier and impart not only darker color, but stronger maple flavor.

As I write this note, it is 22° outside, but projected to hit 46° this afternoon.  The flow should be prolific today and tomorrow. We have enjoyed having this hobby during the "Stay at home" period and the cleanup in the sugarbush will consume at least an additional week of activity. 

We hope all remain safe and healthy as we adjust to this "new normal".

For those interested, here is our family's accepted translation of the Norwegian soliloquy:

      The sun is up

The sun is up, it's a clear day

The rooster greets with flapping wing

Up with the banner, all hands to the work,

All together,