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

Category: 2015: Season 98 Page 2 of 5

Cooked All Day

Warm again today.  It  rained last night about 10:00 PM, but did not last long.  No sleet as forecast.   It did manage to freeze for a little while as there was ice on the puddles.  But was not a hard freeze.  Sunny and  up to 50 during the day.  Tomorrow and Thursday are also warm.  But the weekend is forecast for a return to freezing nights.

 

We did not collect but there will be sap tomorrow.  Checked the buckets during the day and many were half full.

 

Cooked all day.  175 gallons of concentrate which is the equivalent of 350 gallons of raw sap.

 

Into the woods by 8:00 AM.  Back to the house by 7:00 PM.

A Good Run

Collected 515 gallons of sap today.  With this sap we are about 300 gallons of sap away from an average season.  2.5 Brix for raw sap.  Ran the R/O and got 175 gallons of concentrate at 5.0 Brix.  Still have 185 gallons of raw sap in the storage tank.  The soap wash did help the R/O  preform better.  We did not need to ran at 500 psi.   Doing a warm wash this evening.  The R/O will turn off when the water temperature reaches 113 degrees which may take until midnight.

 

Checked the woods at 12:30 PM.  Found a lot of almost full buckets.  Washed out the collecting and storage tanks.  Started collecting about 2:45 PM.  Finished by 5:30 PM.  Finished pumping the collecting tank in the storage tanks and getting the R/O into its wash cycle.  Back to the house by 6:45 PM.  Tomorrow we cook.

 

Today was sunny and warmed to 53.  Must have fell to upper 20s overnight because there was ice on puddles this morning.  The sap ran started late yesterday.  We noticed yesterday the trees were trying to run.   After our sleet yesterday the temperature warmed to about 40.

 

Tonight we get sleet again late.  Tomorrow not as warm.

Cold, Windy, Sleet

25 overnight. The day started okay.  By 10:45 AM it turned cold, windy and we got sleet.  Late afternoon warmed to upper 30’s but stayed cloudy and windy.  The trees dripped a little.  If it had been warmer there would have been a run.

 

Last night about 10:15 PM we went back to the woods to run a 20 minute rinse of the R/O after the wash cycle.  Wanted to get it flushed out and not sit overnight.

 

Only activity in the woods: we brought in the bottled syrup from yesterday.

And We Wait

Down to 11 overnight.  Sunny today with a high of 35.  Too cold for sap although late in the day the sun warmed the trees enough to start dripping.    Tonight is mid 20’s and tomorrow is 43 but snow/rain.

 

Brought back the syrup we bottled yesterday.  And prepared for bottling today.  Bottled plastic quarts today.  They travel better then glass.

 

While bottling we also ran a wash cycle on the R/O.  It takes hours to warm the water as it cycles through the R/O.   We want to get a tank heater for next season to save several hours.

 

We need about 850 gallons of sap yet to have an average season.  Hopefully this week we get some sap runs.

Cold

Down to 12 overnight.  Sunny, but windy and cold all day. It was cold in the syrup building even with the evaporator going.  Maybe 26 for the high.  Tonight cold again with lows in teens.  The ground freezing did dry up all the mud from the snow the other night.   Supposed to reach 38 tomorrow, but starting so cold its doubtful sap will flow.

 

Into the woods by 8:00 AM.   Caught up on cooking.   By 3:30 PM our concentrate tank was empty.  We started the finishing pan by 1:10 PM so it was ready by 3:15 PM to filter and bottle.  Bottled 24 qts, 9 pts and 12 8 oz bottles.

 

Back to the house by 5:00 PM.  The R/O saved us about 13 hrs of cooking over the past two days.

Clogged Valve

Did not freeze last night.  Cloudy.  Windy.  Snow flurries today.  Up to 34.  Tonight down to the teens.  No new sap.  Spent the day cooking.  Or trying to cook.

 

Into the woods by 8:15 AM.  We washed the syrup pan last night so we were ready to go this morning.  By 9:00 AM ready to run in sap.  But the flow was restricted.  We thought frozen pipes so used the propane torch on the elbows and other places sap may accumulate and freeze.  Flow still restricted.  Got the pipe wrenches to take apart the pipes looking for obstructions like trigs or bark.  Reconnected and tried again.  Still restricted.  The obstruction had to be by valve because we could get sap at other joints.  Took off the valve.  Struggled to get that off.   Did not feel any obstructions.  Blew into and out came the obstruction.  Reassembled the pipes and got back to cooking.  This problem took two hours to resolve.  We lost about 2 ½/ hours cooking time.

 

About 3:30 PM we started filtering and bottling.  Needed to be done, but lost more cooking time.  Bottled 24 qts and 17 pts.

 

At 6:00 PM we started the R/O to empty the large storage tank.  About 125-150 gallons of concentrate to cook tomorrow.    We filled a milk can with syrup today.   Back to the house by 8:15 PM.

Snow Melted And Sap Ran

Picked up 525 gallons at 2.0 Brix.  It ran into late last night.  Then started again today after the snow.

We got about 1 ½ inches of snow early this morning.  Everything was white for a few hours.   At 6:00 AM it was snowing pretty hard.  The snow stopped by 7:30 AM.   It was cloudy all day but warmed to the low 40s.   The snow melted and sap ran.  Because of the R/O we had a day off from cooking today.

 

We checked the buckets around 1:00 PM.  A lot were full.  Called everyone for collecting and headed out by 3:00 PM.   Had a 225 gallon tank full by 4:00 PM.  Started the R/O to process it while heading out for the second tank otherwise we would not have enough tank space to hold the sap.   We now have 175 gallons of concentrate at 4.0 or 4.2 Brix.  And about 175 gallons of raw sap at 2.0 Brix.  We will hold off running that through the R/O until we finish cooking the 175 gallons of concentrate.

 

And water.  We now have excess water.  That has never happened before.  Every drop of water ever used from all the past seasons came from milk cans hauled on the tractor from the farmhouse.  The R/O gives us water.  Some we need for cleaning the R/O but the rest we can use.  Or dump, which seems just wrong considering all the water we hauled over the years.

 

Tonight 28.  Tomorrow 37, but then turns colder with lows in the teens.

The R/O

An Historic Day. 375 Gallons. 9 Hours

The R/O is in production.  It started processing sap at 10:45 AM.  Its an historic day at MapleAcres and  changes how we process sap.  Old school, 375 gallons would take about 18 ½ hours of cooking over two days.  We processed it all in 9 hours.

 

We hinted at working on the R/O a few days ago.  But held off a full description while we worked out all the setup challenges.    Many people to thank.  Dean for the building and his all around help.  David for figuring out and doing the piping.   John for drilling holes and connecting piping.  Joe for patiently answering my questions as I tried to figure out how it works and troubleshot problems.

 

Into the woods by 8:00 AM.  It was cold overnight: down to 13.  And still cold when we went to the woods.  Had to do a water run before anything else.   Then wash the finishing pan, which we did not do Sunday after bottling.   We had to wash the finishing pan so we could wash the syrup pan of the evaporator on the burner.  The evaporator had to be all ready for cooking when the R/O was ready.  Then we had frozen pipes and need the propane torch to thaw out.

 

The R/OFinally ready to turn on the R/O.  But one last problem when it started.  It was sucking air from a faulty value on the wash tank that did not close 100%.  Looked around  the building and found a 1 ¼ inch plug.  Disconnected the value from the piping and attached the plug.  Its not pretty but stopped it from sucking air.

 

It was 10:45 AM when we turned it again.  The raw sap was 2.2 Brix.  Sap was moving through the R/O.  Then we ran out to check that permeate was at 0 Brix, no sugar.  And check Brix on the concentrate:  4.0 Brix.    This is what we expected.  We can go higher Brix, but wanted to take out 50% of the water to start.  In about 1 ¼ hrs it emptied the 225 gallon storage tank.   The permeate tank had about 112 gallons of water as expected.  An unknown benefit: the R/O shuts off when the tanks are empty so you do not have to watch it.

 

Higher Brix sap boils differently.   Much bigger rolling, almost foaming boils across the entire flue pan.  And we take off batches of syrup every 1 hr to 1 ½ hrs.  Old school we take off batches every 2 ½ hrs to 3 hrs.  We filled a 10 gallons milk can with syrup today.

 

Now we need more sap.  We were expecting a sap run today.  But at 13 overnight it was too cold until late afternoon to run.  Between 2:00 and 3:00 they started running.  They ran a few hours before to dropped below freezing for the night.  Mind 20s tonight.  And snow!  1”-3” with freezing rain and slop.    But Thursday looks promising.

 

Back to the house by 8:30 PM.

 

The R/O has taken us three years.  There will be more challenges, but we have turned an historic corner.  Ned (Dad) and Walter (Grand Dad) hope you are proud.

Ice

Down to 20 overnight.  Partly cloudy and only up to about 33 during the day.    But the March sun is warm and the trees did run.  Between yesterday and today there was a good sap run.  We went out collecting at 3:00 PM.  There was ice in the buckets.  Picked up the sap and dumped the ice because it does not contain much, if any, sugar.  Usually we battle ice early in the season, but it was so warm earlier there was no ice.

 

We pickup up 375 gallons of sap.  2.2 Brix.  We expected a higher Brix because of dumping the ice.  If we did not have ice there would have been close to 500 gallons of sap.

 

Cold again tonight, but tomorrow warms so there will be another sap run.  The trees were still pinging away as we collected.  It was about 28 degrees when we finished.

 

In the house by 6:00 PM.  Tomorrow we cook.

Bottling And Re-Bottling

Into the woods by 8:00 AM.  Cold overnight and all day.  Down to 24 overnight but only warmed to 33 during the day.  It was sunny and the warm sun did cause the trees to start dripping.   There is now ice in the buckets.  Where was this weather two weeks ago?

 

Tonight down to 20.  Tomorrow 38.

 

Finished cooking by Noon.  Then started bottling.  Trouble with the filter press.  Finished syrup is not passing through it.  We actually tore the rubber membrane in the hand pump from applying too much pressure trying to force through the syrup.  Fortunately we had a spare.  We only got 2/3 of the milk can  through the filter.  We bottled that.  But for some unknown reason we did not check the bottles after filling.   At the end of the batch we noticed the syrup was cloudy.  We always check the first bottles to make sure the syrup is clear.  Can not explain why we did not check this.   The batch was about 6 gallons and all cloudy.    The faulty filter press may have caused it.   We can not control the color of the syrup, but we can control the clarity by filtering it properly.   We suspect there was change in the filter aid that is causing our problems.   The new filter aid is sightly pink in color and a very fine powder.  The filter aid we are used to was white and a little coarser.  Seems to take 2-3 times as much.  We were used to using 1/3 cup per gallon of syrup.  Have to use about 1 cup per gallon with the new filter aid.

 

We finished and bottled another batch of syrup.  That too had trouble going through the filter press.  We made it a smaller batch to compensate.   But it was clear.

 

At 5:30 PM we made the decision to re-bottle the cloudy syrup.  Emptied all the bottles in the finishing pan.   Diluted a bit, then heated and brought back to proper density.   This took some time.  Filtering worked better because we added more filter aid.  We not did start  re-bottling until 7:45 PM.   And it was getting cold outside and in the syrup building.    The end result was worth it.  The re-finished and re-bottled syrup is clear.

 

Back to the farmhouse by 8:45 PM.

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