The Maple Sugar Book

"A complete syrup and sugar maker comprises in himself a woodcutter, a forester, a botanist, an ecologist, a meteorologist, an agronomist, a chemist, a cook, an economist, and a merchant.  Sugaring is an art, an education, and a maintenance."


Helen and Scott Nearing
The Maple Sugar Book, 1950

Threats to Maple Trees

The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is an invasive insect that feeds on certain species of hardwood trees, eventually killing them. The ALB especially likes maple tree.  The ALB most likely came to the United States inside wood packing material from Asia. Since it was first discovered in Brooklyn, New York in 1996, the beetle has caused tens of thousands of trees to be destroyed in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. If the ALB were to become established here, it could become one of the most destructive and costly pests ever to enter the United States. If we don’t find and stop the ALB, we’ll lose more than trees. We’ll lose industries worth billions of dollars – and wildlife habitats too. Our yards and neighborhoods will take decades to recover.

Read More at Beetle Busters

More Numbers For The Season PDF Print
Friday, 12 April 2019 17:55

We used 3 cords of wood.  That’s amazing.  The years of burning 10-12 cords of wood are gone.


Also calculated the syrup we should have made based on a collection vs how much we actually bottled.  Wanted to see if we were loosing any or otherwise miscalculating.


Gal    Brix   Gal/ratio    Syrup

375   2.5     375/35       10.7

410   2.5     410/35       11.7

700   2.5     700/35       20.0

200   2.0     200/43        4.7

475   2.0     475/43       11.0

625   2.0     625/43       14.5

575   2.0     575/43       13.4

285   2.0     285/43        6.6


92.6 gal


Actual bottled:  91 gal, 2 qt, 1 pt.  Almost exactly the same.  The slight loss is likely due to syrup that gets caught in the filter press.


503 taps producing 92 gallons means the yield per tap is 0.18 gal/tap  = 1.44 pint/tap


The flue pan of the evaporate is okay.   The vinegar soak helped.   Its passable, but we can do better.  Going back to our previous cleaning procedure next season.


Into the woods by 9:00 AM to finish cleaning the pan, wash the floors and store tanks.  Out of the woods by 1:30 PM.    Then did final equipment cleanup at the farmhouse.  Done by 4:30 PM.  Tomorrow we fly back to Washington, DC.


Season 102 is closed.

Everything Is White Again PDF Print
Thursday, 11 April 2019 18:30

About 1” to 1 1/2” of snow overnight.  Everything is white again.  The roads were a bit slippery but overall not much of a snow event.


Got the filter press washed.  Milk cans washed.  R/O hoses off and rinsed with bleach solution.  We learned the hard way that the hoses need a thorough cleaning to prevent mold during the off season.  The membrane is in the storage canister with SMBS solution.


The big remaining item is the flue pan of the evaporator.  About 2/3 of it looks good.  The middle third is still a work in progress.  We have it soaking in a vinegar solution overnight.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.  It may not end up as shiny as we usually get it.  If we hadn’t changed our cleaning procedure we’d be done with everything by now.

92 Gallons PDF Print
Wednesday, 10 April 2019 18:20

Mother Nature gave us 92 gallons this season.  A good crop.  We finished bottling at 11:45 AM.  14 quarts and 2 x 250 ml bottles.  All Grade A Dark.


Fewer sap collections then most seasons, but more gallons per collection.    Good sugar content:  started at 2.5° Brix and never fell below 2.0° Brix.  No nitre during the first three boils was amazing.  We struggled with bottling: let our temperature get away from us twice causing cloudy syrup and blew out the hand pump again.  Over all the syrup was darker.


The R/O is back at the farmhouse.  The tanks washed and pipes down.  Finishing pan cleaned.  Most equipment also back at the farmhouse.  We were trying to beat the snow/wintery mix.


Snow totals are still unsettled:  2”-4”, 4”-6”, 3”-5”.   Final totals all depend on where the warm/cold line settles.  To the  West in MN, SD, NE they are getting a blizzard with 12”-24” and high winds.  We had that last year at around the same dates with blizzard Evelyn.


Tomorrow morning we can clean equipment in the house until the weather clears.  We want to try a different method to clean the nitre scale from the flue pan.

Problem With Pan Cleanup PDF Print
Tuesday, 09 April 2019 18:28

Into the woods by 9:30 AM to work on cleaning the evaporator pans.  From syrup pan cleaned up easily.  The back flue pan isn’t cleaning well.  Usually the pan almost wipes clean with the stainless steel finishing pads.  Not happening today.  The nitre scale is not coming off easily.  The most likely reason is our change in procedure finishing the syrup in the evaporator.    While the front pan cooked we had water in the back flue pan, but did not add our cleaning solution until after the syrup was done.  The result was less time with the cleaning solution and our problems today cleaning the pan.  The bottom of the pan cleaned easily.   Its always been a point of pride to clean all  carbon from the bottom of the pan the nire scale from the inside.  We’ve got two days to work on it yet.


R/O is ready to disassemble and take into the farmhouse.


Snow amounts for Wednesday night into Thursday are still uncertain.  It all depends on where the cold line settles.  Late March and April snows are hard to predict accurately.

Good Progress With Cleanup PDF Print
Monday, 08 April 2019 18:41

Into the woods by 9:00 AM.  Got the pans off the evaporator.  Got a tank of water from the farmhouse.  Rinsed the pans then placed back on the evaporator.  Filled the flue pan with water.  Syrup in the front pan.  We finish the syrup in the front pan while boiling water the in the flue pan to clean it.


About 11 gallons of partly cooked sap in the milk cans.  Didn’t take long to finish it.  Our careful cooking Saturday paid off by reducing to almost done.  By 1:45 PM it was ready to take off.  About 5 gallons.   Puts us well past 90 gallons for the season.


By 2:30 PM we went out to pickup the buckets and covers and get them back to storage.  The sun was bright.  Temperature 62.  Dried the buckets from yesterday’s rain.  Getting the buckets back from the woods is a big item to complete.


Running another wash cycle on the R/O membrane.   Tomorrow we start cleaning the evaporator pans.


Snow forecast for Wednesday into Thursday. Amounts depend on where the cold line will be.  Farther North, we get rain or wintery mix.  Farther South we get a lot of snow.


Back to the farmhouse by 4:00 PM.

« StartPrev12345678NextEnd »

Page 1 of 8

2019 Season @ A Glance

Mar 9    135
Mar 9    100
Mar 9    100
Mar 9    100
Mar 9     65
Mar 12     3
Total     503

Tree Pressure
Mar 12   20 PSI
Mar 13     5 PSI
Mar 14     2 PSI
Mar 15     2 PSI
Mar 16   13 PSI
Mar 17   15 PSI
Mar 18   15 PSI
Mar 19   13 PSI
Mar 20     1 PSI
Mar 21     1 PSI
Mar 22     1 PSI
Mar 23   15 PSI
Mar 24    4 PSI
Mar 25   -1 PSI
Mar 25   13 PSI
Mar 26   15 PSI
Mar 27     2 PSI
Mar 28     0 PSI
Mar 29     0 PSI
Mar 30     0 PSI
Apr  01    7 PSI
Apr  01   15 PSI
Apr  02    4 PSI
Apr  03    1 PSI
Apr  04    7 PSI
Apr  05    1 PSI
Apr  06    0 PSI

Sap        Gal   Brix
Mar 14    375   2.5
Mar 17    410   2.5
Mar 19    700   2.5
Mar 21    200   2.0
Mar 24    475   2.0
Mar 27    625   2.0
Apt  02    575   2.0
Apr  05    285   2.0
Total      3645

Bottled  Qt   Pt   500   250
Mar 19    26    2
Mar 22    28    3
Mar 23    12    2             1
Mar 23    31    6     2      1
Mar 27   12    15   16     14
Mar 27   10
Mar 30   12    20            2
Apr  04  24    18
Apr 04   24    15
Apr 04   24      6             1
Apr 07  18     16             13
Apr 07  15       1    18     27
Apr 07  21     20             2
Apr 10  14                      2

2018 Season @ A Glance

Feb 22     200
Feb 23     100
Feb 24     209
Total        511


Sap        Gal   Brix
Feb 26   435   2.25
Mar 03   400   2.00
Mar 05   255   2.50
Mar 12   400   3.00
Mar 15   440   2.25
Mar 18   505   2.00
Mar 23   325   2.50
Mar 25   400   2.00
Mar 27   415   2.00
Mar 29   200   2.00
Mar 31   165   2.00
Apr   6     25   3.00
Total :    3965


Bottled  Qt  Pt  500  250
Mar 10    25   3
Mar 10    15  16
Mar 10    19                2
Mar 11    20   1    2     1
Mar 17    24   14  2     2
Mar 21    37    2
Mar 22    38
Mar 27    28
Mar 27      2   1
Mar 27   25    12
Mar 29   24    10
Mar 31   24    14
Apr   7   27      2   6
Apr   7   17    12  10   1
Apr  10  23     1

Total:  101 gal

In Memoriam

Ned T. Zander died Wednesday, June 1, 2011 in the home where he was born, lived, and passed. He was surrounded and comforted by his loving family.

Ned was a Maple Syrup producer. His parents introduced him to Maple Syrup making. He made Maple Syrup all his life.  First with his parents, then with brother, Paul Zander, and later with help from family and friends. He was a member of the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association. In recent years he enjoyed attending the annual meeting of the North American Maple Syrup Council in various US states and Canadian provinces where he could talk about maple syrup 24 hours a day.  In October 2006 during the North American Maple Syrup Council annual meeting the participants toured his humble sugarbush.  Ned was thrilled to show his small operation to large producers from Vermont, Maine, New York and Quebec.

Ned was also an avid woodsman. Over the course of his life he cut and split approximately 700 cords of firewood for heating his home, cooking maple syrup or selling. He also made logs from his woods that he sold to Algoma Lumber Company.

We plan to continue making Maple Syrup not only to honor Ned, but also because we like doing it.

Old Maple Syrup makers never die, they just evaporate.