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

MapleAcres
Buckets Down; Bottling Caught Up PDF Print
Sunday, 07 April 2019 19:23

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 PDF Print
Saturday, 06 April 2019 15:40

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 PDF Print
Friday, 05 April 2019 18:08

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 PDF Print
Thursday, 04 April 2019 17:58

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 PDF Print
Wednesday, 03 April 2019 18:39

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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2019 Season @ A Glance

Taps
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

Taps
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.