Season 91 is over. It turned out to be a great season. We bottled 8 more quarts from the sap remaining in the evaporator. That gives us 294 quarts, 73 ½ gallons total for the season. This actually bests 2008’s crop by 2 quarts. The week of March 23rd things did not look promising for a good season, but things turned around. The season was never overwhelming. Frequently there is a period of 3 or 4 days when we get 1200 gallons of sap. Then we have long nights to process it all. But this year all the sap runs were spaced out. We collected 9 times and picked up 3000 gallons of sap. So doing the math we get a ratio of about 41 gallons of sap for 1 gallon of finished maple syrup.
We were into the woods by 9:30 am to work on cleanup. By 10:15 am the sap in the finishing pan was ready. It helped that we let it boil the night before or it would have been much later in the day before it was ready.
After bottling we went into full scale cleanup mode. The biggest task was to clean the evaporator pans, both inside and the bottom. The inside cleaned pretty easy as we had it soaking in cleaning solution overnight. But the bottom is always a chore. The pan bottom is exposed to the wood fire. It gets a thick layer of burnt on carbon. We use oven cleaner, a putty knife for scrapping, and scotchbrite pads for cleaning the final layers of black burnt on carbon. It took a good 3 hours of work but in the end the bottom was a clean and shiny as the inside.
By 5:30 pm the evaporator was cleaned, along with the finishing and bottling pans. Ashes cleaned from the evaporator. All the buckets and covers were stored for another year. Only a few easy and less urgent task remained: washing the floor; cleaning the spouts, bringing the remaining syrup out of the woods.
So ends season 91. We are grateful for the help from family and friends and grateful for the good crop.