The Maple Sugar Book

"A complete syrup and sugar maker comprises in himself a woodcutter, a forester, a botanist, an ecologist, a meteorologist, an agronomist, a chemist, a cook, an economist, and a merchant.  Sugaring is an art, an education, and a maintenance."


Helen and Scott Nearing
The Maple Sugar Book, 1950

Threats to Maple Trees

The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is an invasive insect that feeds on certain species of hardwood trees, eventually killing them. The ALB especially likes maple tree.  The ALB most likely came to the United States inside wood packing material from Asia. Since it was first discovered in Brooklyn, New York in 1996, the beetle has caused tens of thousands of trees to be destroyed in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. If the ALB were to become established here, it could become one of the most destructive and costly pests ever to enter the United States. If we don’t find and stop the ALB, we’ll lose more than trees. We’ll lose industries worth billions of dollars – and wildlife habitats too. Our yards and neighborhoods will take decades to recover.

Read More at Beetle Busters

Ah, For A Cool Refreshing Sip PDF Print
Sunday, 17 March 2019 18:29

21 overnight.  38 and sunny.  The forecast called for partly cloudy today.  With the exception of a short period around sunrise, it was clear all day.  With no wind today's 38 felt warmer then yesterday’s 38.


We were concerned the buckets would be full of ice from yesterday’s run.  The trees dripped into the late evening before freezing.  That frequently causes big ice chunks.  By 10:00 AM it was above freezing.  The sun did its magic and melted the bucket ice.  By 11:00 the trees were dripping.   PSI rose to 15.


We when out collecting at 3:00 PM.  Took sips of sap from several buckets to quench our thirst.  Picked up 410 gallons.  Still had problems with our new pump.  We think now the extension cord is bad restricting the voltage the pump needs to start.    After collecting we tried the pump on different outlets and it worked.


Cook tomorrow.  Forecast is 23 overnight and 40 tomorrow.  Hoping we can collect on Tuesday again.

There’s A Sap Run Now PDF Print
Saturday, 16 March 2019 17:26

25 overnight.  Sunny and 37 today, but a cold North West wind made it feel cold.  Around 2:00 PM the taps started dripping.  They are running now and will run until they freeze tonight.  Forecast calls for low 20’s overnight.  We will get ice.  Tomorrow partly cloudy with high 38.    With luck we get ice melt and can collect in the afternoon.


Tree pressure went from 1 PSI this morning when it was below freezing to 13 PSI this afternoon when the taps started dripping.  Although its limited data, it looks like tree pressure increases as the trees start to drip.  It will be interesting to watch if higher pressures correspond to better sap runs.  And could we start to predict from tree pressure how much sap to except.


Found a leak in the R/O.  During the wash cycle yesterday the wash tank lost water.  It should be a closed loop during the wash cycle that circulates water through the membrane.  We use about 17 gallons in the wash tank.  About half was lost.  During the rinse cycle today we looked for the leak.   We could see drips under the 220 volt motor and a pump seal.  Its unlikely two separate places could leak at the same time.  As we continued to investigate we noticed two fine sprays from a pump drain valve.  One stream went to the 220 volt motor.  We loosened and tightened the valve several times and got it to reseal.    Most likely there was a particle – tree bark, twig, small grain of sand, etc – that prevented a good seal.  R/O pressure seemed a little off yesterday during concentration:  it approached 500 PSI.  The R/O automatically stops at 500 PSI to avoid damage.  The floor around the R/O was also unexpectedly wet.  We’ll see if the leak fix helps with R/O pressure too.

First Boil PDF Print
Friday, 15 March 2019 19:20

38 overnight.  Cloudy with snow showers all day.  Temperature up to 40 so the snow showers were unexpected.  Must have been colder at higher altitude.  No accumulation.


In the woods by 6:00 AM.  Needed extra time to assemble and prepare the R/O.  Got the evaporate pans washed out.  Filled the evaporator with sap and got the fire going by 7:00 AM.  Turned the focus to the R/O.  Connected all the hoses.    Inserted the membrane then ran 200 gallons of water through it to prepare it from siting idol during the off season.  Started concentrating at 10:30 AM.  Took the sap to 7° Brix (12:1).  R/O completed by 3:00 PM.  Done cooking and back to the farmhouse by 5:30 PM.


When starting from fresh sap it takes several hours to get going.  It was 1:15 PM before the first batch was ready.  But after that we took off batches about every hour.  Four batches into the milk can.     No sugar sand or nitre but the syrup was darker then expected for the beginning of the season.


Forecast is 25 overnight.  Connected the heating tape to the R/O water tank hose to protect it from freezing.  Tomorrow 40 and partly sunny.  Hoping for sap.

First Collection PDF Print
Thursday, 14 March 2019 19:06

44 overnight.  Drizzle.  Continues to melt.  Water everywhere.  It was cloudy, misty, foggy, drizzely until 3:00 PM.  The sun came out.  Looked like we’d have good weather for collecting.


Into the woods by 9:00 to prepare for collecting.  Setup the tank pipes.  Wash the tanks.  Setup the pipes to the evaporator.


Started collecting at 3:00 PM.  Got a tank full by 4:00 PM.  We setup the new quick connect hose to the  collecting tank.  When we opened the value the pump primed from the flow of sap into it.  We were excited to see that.   But when we plugged in the pump, it didn’t start.  It was getting power, but was seized.  Disappointment.   The pump was stored in the house off season so it should have worked.  We reverted to the old pump.


As we went back out collecting, lite rain started.    Just as we were finishing we go a down pour.  But within 30 minutes the sun was out.


We collected 375 gallons at 2.5 Brix.  Tomorrow we start cooking.

Into The Woods This Afternoon To Prepare PDF Print
Wednesday, 13 March 2019 17:19

35 overnight. A week ago it was -16 overnight.  March weather changes quickly.  We got rain, but not as much as predicted.  Still, its messy.  38 and cloudy today.  The rain and melt water on the ice makes it very slippery.  We walk carefully so we don’t fall.   The trees did drip overnight.  We plan to collect tomorrow.


Into the woods this afternoon to prepare.  Got a tank of water.  We need that to flush the R/O membrane.  We use the  collecting tank to haul the water so had to get that over before we filled the collecting tank.   The R/O holding tank is setup and filled with the water to flush the membrane.


Tomorrow we setup pipes to the tanks and maybe connect the pipes to the R/O.


Tree pressure:  5 PSI.

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2019 Season @ A Glance

Mar 9    135
Mar 9    100
Mar 9    100
Mar 9    100
Mar 9     65
Mar 12     3
Total     503

Tree Pressure
Mar 12   20 PSI
Mar 13     5 PSI
Mar 14     2 PSI
Mar 15     2 PSI
Mar 16   13 PSI
Mar 17   15 PSI
Mar 18   15 PSI
Mar 19   13 PSI
Mar 20     1 PSI
Mar 21     1 PSI
Mar 22     1 PSI
Mar 23   15 PSI
Mar 24    4 PSI
Mar 25   -1 PSI
Mar 25   13 PSI
Mar 26   15 PSI
Mar 27     2 PSI
Mar 28     0 PSI
Mar 29     0 PSI
Mar 30     0 PSI
Apr  01    7 PSI
Apr  01   15 PSI
Apr  02    4 PSI
Apr  03    1 PSI
Apr  04    7 PSI
Apr  05    1 PSI
Apr  06    0 PSI

Sap        Gal   Brix
Mar 14    375   2.5
Mar 17    410   2.5
Mar 19    700   2.5
Mar 21    200   2.0
Mar 24    475   2.0
Mar 27    625   2.0
Apt  02    575   2.0
Apr  05    285   2.0
Total      3645

Bottled  Qt   Pt   500   250
Mar 19    26    2
Mar 22    28    3
Mar 23    12    2             1
Mar 23    31    6     2      1
Mar 27   12    15   16     14
Mar 27   10
Mar 30   12    20            2
Apr  04  24    18
Apr 04   24    15
Apr 04   24      6             1
Apr 07  18     16             13
Apr 07  15       1    18     27
Apr 07  21     20             2
Apr 10  14                      2

2018 Season @ A Glance

Feb 22     200
Feb 23     100
Feb 24     209
Total        511


Sap        Gal   Brix
Feb 26   435   2.25
Mar 03   400   2.00
Mar 05   255   2.50
Mar 12   400   3.00
Mar 15   440   2.25
Mar 18   505   2.00
Mar 23   325   2.50
Mar 25   400   2.00
Mar 27   415   2.00
Mar 29   200   2.00
Mar 31   165   2.00
Apr   6     25   3.00
Total :    3965


Bottled  Qt  Pt  500  250
Mar 10    25   3
Mar 10    15  16
Mar 10    19                2
Mar 11    20   1    2     1
Mar 17    24   14  2     2
Mar 21    37    2
Mar 22    38
Mar 27    28
Mar 27      2   1
Mar 27   25    12
Mar 29   24    10
Mar 31   24    14
Apr   7   27      2   6
Apr   7   17    12  10   1
Apr  10  23     1

Total:  101 gal

In Memoriam

Ned T. Zander died Wednesday, June 1, 2011 in the home where he was born, lived, and passed. He was surrounded and comforted by his loving family.

Ned was a Maple Syrup producer. His parents introduced him to Maple Syrup making. He made Maple Syrup all his life.  First with his parents, then with brother, Paul Zander, and later with help from family and friends. He was a member of the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association. In recent years he enjoyed attending the annual meeting of the North American Maple Syrup Council in various US states and Canadian provinces where he could talk about maple syrup 24 hours a day.  In October 2006 during the North American Maple Syrup Council annual meeting the participants toured his humble sugarbush.  Ned was thrilled to show his small operation to large producers from Vermont, Maine, New York and Quebec.

Ned was also an avid woodsman. Over the course of his life he cut and split approximately 700 cords of firewood for heating his home, cooking maple syrup or selling. He also made logs from his woods that he sold to Algoma Lumber Company.

We plan to continue making Maple Syrup not only to honor Ned, but also because we like doing it.

Old Maple Syrup makers never die, they just evaporate.