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.