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Equilibrium has been achieved!

by Don 3/25/2021 9:36:00 AM

It's been so busy around here, we've been amiss in posting the latest report. We'll try to catch up before the season ends.

Last weekend, the race to catch up to the fast sap flow was achieved by simultaneously ROing the raw sap, and boiling the concentrated sap at 130 gallons/hour. Needing to free up additional barrel capacity, Mary and grandchildren Greta and Jack bottled 45 gallons of syrup, while Don and Peter made syrup in the sugarhouse.  We obtained additional barrel capacity by filling a 45 gallon Four Roses Bourbon barrel to begin aging. This barrel was filled with 30 gallons of Amber Rich, and 15 gallons of Dark Robust- these syrups will compliment with the bourbon and oak flavors, and in 6-9 months yield a delicious Bourbon Barrel Maple Syrup. 

 

We've noticed increasing sugar sand in the syrup as it's drawn off the evaporator. In order to have clear syrup, all the sugar sand needs to be removed, a process obtained by our filter press. This is a description of a filter press from Leader Evaporator:

    A filter press is an effective and efficient method for filtering maple syrup to improve its clarity. A combination of diatomaceous earth, filter papers and specially designed waffle plates and frames act together under pressure to remove niter and sugar sand from your maple syrup.

 

The sugar sand that accumulates in the syrup pan is cleaned out by draining all the sap/syrup, and filling the pans with water. Brought to a boil, the sugar sand scale is softened and removed with pressurized water. 

The sap flows are diminishing slightly, however the forecast predictions indicate the season should continue for another 5-7 days. We're on track for similar production to the 2020 season, but we'll wait and see how this all ends.  More posts soon.

 

Sap Insanity!

by Don 3/18/2021 12:52:00 PM

Two days ago, on March 16th, the sun began thawing the sap after our cold spell and 5" of snow.  The flow increased throughout the day and by dinnertime we had 2,000 gallons! With a few calculations, we determined we were collecting over one pint of sap/tap/hour for most of the day! We don't recall a run this robust in our 27 years of syruping.  We're grateful we've had a Reverse Osmosis machine to concentrate all the sap. After a very long day in the sugarhouse on the 17th, we finished with 60 gallons of very flavorful maple syrup. 

We have had some bumps in the road this season. We have a special propane tank heater to make sure the LP vaporizers fast enough to keep up with our 1.2 million BTU burner.  The heater has malfunctioned and more than once we've noticed the boiling process slowing, as the gas is insufficient to keep with the the demand.  We hope to have this corrected this week with the installation of a new gas valve.

Another problem has been ice formation in our vacuum line.  This was the product of a faulty float in the mechanical releaser, which allowed sap to be suctioned into the vacuum line. It took three attempts, but the issue was corrected, and all systems are "go".

We have made over 280 gallons of maple syrup in the first 11 days of the season!In the days before vacuum, this would have been an average yield for a whole season.  We now shoot for double this amount with our high vacuum system.

 The weather forecast appears quite favorable for the next 3 days, before a warming spell appears.  Stay tuned!

 

 

March 14th (Pi Day) Update

by Don 3/14/2021 11:13:00 AM

Since our last update, the weather has been very favorable for the last few days - lows in the 20's, and highs in the 40's.  The warming sun has made it pleasant to be in the woods, and encouraged the trees to begin giving up sap by mid-mornings.  We have been obtaining over 1 gallon of sap per tap per day (we have 1200 taps).

All of our syrup has been a rich and delicious dark robust flavor.  Under the older classification, this would be "dark amber". Our sap remains consistent at 1.8% sugar concentration, which means it takes approximately 43 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.

We are able to concentrate the sap further than 1.8% through our reverse osmosis (RO) machine to 8%. While this may seems a modest improvement, it actually means 75% of the water is removed.  The savings in time and energy equals 75% as well. Instead of being able to make about 3 gallons of syrup per hour, we can bump it up to 11 gallons!

We are keeping pace with our production of last year, and hope for continued good flows for several more weeks. 

Thanks for reading our post, and we'll update later in the week.