Preparations for the 2022 Maple Season

by Don 2/21/2022 12:05:00 PM

Much has been happening behind the scenes at Somerskogen since we completed the 2021 season. Another year of the pandemic continued to refocus peoples attention from eating out (with its restrictions) to meal preparation at home. Consumers are paying greater attention to natural ingredients and local production of them. This has resulted in a marked increase in maple syrup sales for the industry and Somerskogen was no exception. We have received word of our syrup being used in all sorts of recipes,cocktails,and glazes for grilling.Substitution for sugar in the recipe is becoming standard fare!

We have also noted a marked change in our maple forest as the large fluctuations in rainfall, and erratic temperatures the last 5 years have placed added stress on the maples.We even had a DNR forester advise on this issue. Apparently other maple, basswood forests like ours in the state are similarly affected.Nerstrand State Park, which has some of the last virgin hardwoods in the state have recorded this change as well.

In an effort to maximize the efficiency of our vacuum collection system, we have added a pressure monitoring system made by CDL,a major maple equipment manufacturer, and installed by Roth Sugarbush of Cadott WI.This system has a vacuum sensor at the end of each mainline and transmits pressure readings to a central receiver located in our sugarhouse.Each unit is battery powered and charged with a solar panel.We can direct our attention to that area in the forest that may have lost vacuum due to squirrel bites, fallen trees, or loose spiles.This allows us to direct our attention to the problem region instead of walking aimlessly in the woods! We also have a tank monitor that reflects volume in our collection tank. We can also access this information on our cell phones.

So you can see...we've stayed busy!



A Foamy Finish

by Don 3/29/2021 11:50:00 AM

We entered this weekend uncertain as to it's outcome, as the forecast looked ominous with 70's predicted for the Monday, March 29th. We started the 28th, fully expecting a better than even chance the season would continue into the following week. Our first indication otherwise, was the sugar concentration dropping from 1.9% to 1.5%. This meant it would require 57 gallons of sap (not the usual 45 gallons) to make a gallon of syrup.

The second indicator was the sugar sand/nitre  (organic salt and minerals) building up to such a degree that our filter press required changing paper filters every 8 gallons, compared to the usual 30-45 gallons!

 The third and final indicator was a dramatic increase in foaming, in all pans as the day progressed. While the syrup tasted excellent, and was dark robust flavor profile, we knew the season was at an end.

 We finished the season just under 500 gallons of finished syrup, with all of it being amber rich, or dark robust grades.  We now begin the cleaning phase of pulling and draining all the taps, cleaning of equipment, providing annual maintenance on all pumps and motors, and replacing used inventory. This will most likely take several days to accomplish.

 Our plans for next season includes the installation of a vacuum monitoring system. This entails placing a manometer at the end of each mainline at the end of each mainline that transmits the pressure reading to our sugarhouse or our smart phones.   This will allow us to quickly localize which lines have a drop in vacuum and need attention.  This will save considerable time walking the woods, looking and listening for leaks. 

 All of our syrup is of excellent taste profile, and was featured in a television news report last week. 

Check out our bourbon barrel aged maple syrup. We used a Four Rosed bourbon barrel and aged our syrup in it for 10 months. The is arguably our best tasting barrel of syrup. Give it a try!



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.