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

Category: 2019: Season 102 Page 1 of 4

More Numbers For The Season

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

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

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

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

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.

Buckets Down; Bottling Caught Up

Into the woods by 7:30 AM.  Got syrup on the finishing pan by 8:00 AM.  Our goal was to finish and bottle three milk cans.  That takes a lot of focus but we got it done.  Took longer then expected because we filled a lot of specialty bottles.  It takes filling four of the 250 ml bottles to replace filling one quart bottle.  That’s 4:1 bottles to fill.  We have 88 gallons bottled now.

All the spouts and buckets are down.  That’s a big item completed.  The evaporator is empty.  We have about 11 gallons of sap to finish.  Hoping that will give us 2-5 gallons more of syrup.

The 6th Batch

Into the woods by 6:30 AM.  Soaking the syrup pan worked well. Quick cleanup this morning.  Struggled to get the fire going.  Used a big piece of wood which elevated the kindling too high causing too much draft.  Still managed with one match, but took longer then usual to catch.

R/O going by 7:15 AM.  Done by 10:45 AM: 81 gallons/hour.  Will shop around for membranes before next season.

5 batches into the milk can.  By 12:30 PM we were done cooking, but continued carefully cooking to reduce the amount of sap in the evaporator to making emptying, finishing and cleaning it easier.  This requires careful attention to firing and monitoring sap level in the evaporator:  no more sap to add if the fire gets too hot.  Have to carefully simmer it down.  A 6th batch became ready so we took it off.  The fire was very low by that point.  We had R/O water nearby if needed.  We spread out the fire under the evaporator and closed the damper causing the heat to rapidly disperse.  We achieved our goal:  the sap level is very low and the fire and residual heat will not burn the pans.  This will make the remaining evaporator work easier.    Some seasons we end up with 30+ gallons to finish off.  Takes time to finish.

Batches into the milk can
1  8:00 AM
2  9:15 AM
3 10:05 AM
4 11:05 AM
5 12:00 PM
6   1:35 PM

Back to the farmhouse by 2:30 PM.

Last Collection

Started at 2:45 PM . Finished by 4:30 PM.  285 gallons.   Still 2° Brix.  But this will be the last collection.   We used food grade grease on the fittings to the transfer pump.  That sealed any leaks ad we did not suck in air when emptying the collecting tank.  Emptied fast as we expected.

We loose freezing nights with days in 50s.  This will be our last collection.  We cook tomorrow then get into cleanup mode.

Into the woods by 1:30 PM.  Needed to run another wash cycle on the R/O and clean out the nitre from the syrup pan.  The pan is soaking and should be ready for the morning.

Big Day Bottling: Three Milk Cans

Into the woods by 7:30 AM to start the finishing pan.  First can ready to bottle by 9:30 AM and bottled by 10:30 AM.  Second can ready by 12:30 PM, bottled by 1:30 PM.  Third can ready by 2:50 PM bottled by 3:55 PM.  A good day.  Monitored temperature carefully so syrup stayed clear.    Found some better ways to warm bottles.  Interweave the empty bottles with the fulled bottles that are cooling.  The dissipating heat warms the bottle awaiting filling.  Back to the farmhouse by 4:30 PM.  Satisfying to get this much bottled.  1 ¾ cans still waiting for bottling.

And it looks like we will get more sap.  There was a run on today.  PSI up to 7.  Some pails half full.  We will collect tomorrow, but that’s most likely the last collection.  Forecast for 60 over the weekend.

Slower Cooking Today

Into the woods by 6:00 AM.  Cleaning the syrup pan yesterday was very helpful because we could start the fire right away.  Had the R/O going by 6:30 AM.  R/O finished at 1:45 PM.   Our flow dropped to 79 gallons/hour.  Not as good boils today either  Took 65-70 minutes between batches.  But we still had 11 batches into the milk cans.

By the 4th batch the nitre was accumulating.  We continued to monitor it and were able to cook with it.  As the day went on we had to cook with more sap in the pans to compensate.  That helped.

30 overnight.  50’s and sunny today.  Forecast called for a windy day, but that did not happen.  With the  warmer weather its important to cook the sap as soon as we can.

Tomorrow we bottle.

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