Maple Syrup: Nature's Spring Tonic. -- Since 1918

Category: 2009: Season 92 Page 2 of 4

Visiting Other Syrup Makers

There was nothing happening in the woods today.  It was cloudy maybe 42.  It did not freeze last night so no sap.  Officially we had .13 of an inch of rain.  We visited two other local maple syrup makers.  They were boiling today to finish up the sap they have on hand.   Both are having the same type of season we are having and a little under a normal crop.  

The weather forecast for tomorrow and Friday is back to freezing night and sunny days.  If there will be more sap it will come then.  If there is nothing we will know its over.  And Saturday we may get a snow storm.

Where is the Rain?

Today was cloudy and about 40.  It drizzled a little.  It looked like it would rain, but we have not had the 1 – 2 inches originally forecast.

We were in the woods by 9:00 am.  We used our new pump to move yesterday’s sap to the storage tanks.  This pump is quieter.   The instructions to the pump say it is self priming, yet there is a big caution label on the pump saying it must be filled with liquid before use, i.e. primed.  Since the pump has a fill plug we are priming it.

The state inspector came today. They check for basic cleanliness and food handling procedures.  We have some concern that they are getting stricter and stricter and will drive out small maple syrup producers. Maple syrup is not a good vector for harmful organisms given the amount of boiling it takes to make maple syrup.

By 6:00 pm the storage tanks were empty and we had bottled another 18 quarts of syrup.  We have 196 quarts now, just under 50 gallons.

Last Sap Collection? And a New Pump

Today was cloudy. Got up to 40 or so. But the sap did not run. With rain forecast for the next few days we planned to pickup the sap there was so it would not spoil. Set out about 1:15 pm. A Wintery mix of rain/snow started falling. This was not expected this early. Fortunately it did not fall long or hard so we did not get wet collecting. There was not a lot of sap. Some buckets were completely dry already. We did get about 175 gallons. There may not be any more sap this season. Unless the weather turns favorable with a return to sunny days and freezing nights, which are not forecast, we may well be done.

We setup to pump the sap from the collecting tank to the storage tanks. Our pump struggled to start. It has had problems all season. We could actually see the electric motor burning up. And then it quit and would not start again. This pump was 25 to 30 years old so it gave us a good run. So we made a trip to Fleet Farm to purchase a new pump. We have a replacement pump now that is almost identical. It is rated at 1450 gallons/hour. Doing the math, it should empty our 200 gallon collecting tank in just under 10 minutes. The pump cost $110.

The Storage Tanks Are Empty

Started boiling early again at 4:00 am.  By 8:00 pm the storage tanks were empty; the 400 gallons collected yesterday were boiled through.  Bottle twice for a total of 35 quarts.  We now have 178 quarts, 44.5 gallons of syrup for the season.   We will get more then the 2007 season when we only got 45 gallons for the entire season.  We will collect again tomorrow, Monday.  Rain is still forecast for Tuesday, maybe up to 2 inches.  

The day started cloudy, but turned sunny by afternoon.  Got up to about 45.  The snow is disappearing.

Sap Today

It snowed overnight. We got a little over 1 inch. Everything was snowy white this morning again. By 9:30 am the sun came out and that snow disappeared fast. It got up to about 45 today. The sap was dripping. Still not too fast though. We were waiting around this morning waiting for the trees. We did go out to collect at 2:00 pm. Brought in about 400 gallons of sap. So our storage tanks are full again. Tomorrow we will boil it down.

Its still forecast for rain starting Monday.

Waiting for the Weather to Change

It was down to 17 last night. It warmed slowly during the day and only reached about 35 with clouds coming in this afternoon. The sap started running slowly late in the afternoon, but not enough to collect. Tomorrow should be warmer and we are hoping we can collect.

Next week rain is forecast and no freezing nights. That has us wondering if the season will come to an abrupt and early end.

Cleaning Day

It was cold over night. Down to the low 20s. Everything was frozen up this morning and most of the day as the temperature only got up to about 33 later this afternoon. With the storage tanks empty and no fresh sap we did a bit of cleaning today.

Cleaned the syrup pan on the evaporator. The sugar in the sap starts to coat the bottom of the pan and disrupts boiling. While we are not exactly sure of the interaction that cause it, the results are that syrup is prone to boiling over even with a low fire under that pan. With a slow day we had a chance to take the pan off and clean the coating before it got so bad as to cause a problem. And we washed some of the stickiness off the floor and washed out he collecting tank.

We also brought back from the woods the finished syrup and brought four milk cans of water to the woods.

And we had snow flurries. Nothing that accumulated but after two days of warm temperatures it was surprising to see. Today turned out to be much colder than was forecast even yesterday.

We now have 144 quarts, 36 gallons, of finished syrup for the season so far.

Empty Tanks

Still too warm.  It did not freeze last night.  It was sunny and about 50 today.  But without a freeze the  sap was not running.

We were able to empty our storage tanks from yesterday’s collection.  Into the woods around 9:00 am.  By 8:00 pm we were done, all the storage tanks empty.  We took four batches of syrup off the evaporator, but we doubled up the batches so we only bottled twice.  16 quarts around 1:00 pm.  15 quarts around 6:00 pm.   31 quarts total.

Tomorrow and Friday are forecast for freezing nights, about 25,  and highs in the 40s and sunny.  That is what we need.  The long range forecast says rain for next week.  That is not a good sign.  This season may end early.

Last season we were running the syrup through the filter press twice in order to get clear syrup.  That was a lot of work.  We spoke with some other maple syrup producers at the annual meeting about it.  We were bottling too hot.  We need to be at 180 degrees to 185 degrees.  We were typically bottling around 210 to 215 degrees.  This was causing the particles to precipitate out of the syrup again and making it cloudy.   Now that we are holding 180-185 degrees we are able to filter only once.  Saves a lot of work.

The Big Thaw

It was up to 66 today. It did not freeze overnight. This is too warm for sap flows. Tomorrow is also forecast to be warm, mid 50s. Wednesday night and Thursday its forecast for more normal: 20s at night and 40s during the day. If it stays in the upper 50s without freezing night we could be ending the season early.

Water from the melting snow was running all over the place. This was the big thaw.

Out to the woods about 4:00 am again to finish up the sap collected on Sunday. We ran out of LP gas which we use for finishing the syrup and bottling. Last season we picked up an extra tank of LP gas so we should have been OK. Nope. That tank was empty. It must have leaked. So we had to make trip to the Coop to get LP gas.

We did collect. Picked up 325 gallons. Help came by 1:00 pm and we set out. Some buckets were half full to three quarters full. Others were almost empty.

And bottled 19 quarts today.

Busy Boiling

No new sap today.  Working on boiling what we collected yesterday.  Out to the woods about 4:30 am.  Boiled all day.  And the storage tanks are almost empty. 

 

Bottled 15 quarts today.  We have 92 quarts total now.

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