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.
Finally 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.