Season’s End

130407 Sugar (1)Bill, Carmen and Russell gathered sap Saturday morning on what turned out to be a very nice day.  The estimate of sap was over 700 gallons.  The RO was started and the waiting began.  Russell was firing up the rig when we arrived around 3:00.

Boiling sap requires a lot of waiting and watching with moments of intensity.  Russ has a lot of new electronic gadgets that we whine about but in reality it does make boiling easier.  This year was a stack thermometer that lets you know when you need to stoke the fire.

130407 Sugar (3)At the top of the above photo is a piece of equipment that is the automatic draw.  This opens a valve on the pan that lets the syrup out into a pail when it’s the right sugar content.  A lot of testing goes on when you first begin the process.  Once you know the specific gravity of the syrup for that particular day the temperature is set. Russell tweaks it most of the afternoon always going for the best syrup possible.

130407 Sugar (4)Bill doing his job as fireman.  Poking and stoking.  We burn slabs from a local sawmill – it looks like it’s mostly pine and hemlock – don’t quote me on that though.  It is HOT in that sugarhouse once everything has been going for a while.  The stack thermometer was over 1,000 degrees a number of times.

130407 Sugar (2)Waiting and watching.  As the syrup is drawn off it is filtered and put into a holding tank.  The tank holds about 12 gallons of syrup and has a gas burner underneath it that enables us to heat it up for canning.

130407 Sugar (5)Russell is putting the fire out at the end of the boil.  There is a stainless tank in the sugarhouse with a clear hose so you can see when you are coming to the end of the sap.  You need to get that fire out and stop the process before your sap runs out or you will burn your pan.  I always feel it’s a little bit of a panic at the end, you want to boil all you can but not enough to wreck your equipment.  Tensions always begin to rise as boiling comes to an end.

As the filtering is done and the holding tank is filled we begin to put the syrup in bottles.  It’s not until you’ve canned every drop that you tally up what you did for the day.  The old record was 22 gallons in one day, Saturday we did a little over 23.  It is also some of the nicest syrup we’ve ever produced.  While Carmen and I canned Russ cleaned up.  Everything is washed down at the end of the session, it’s kind of a sticky mess but the sugar just melts away with water.  We finished everything at 8:15.

130407 Sugar (6)Any one interested?  Think pancakes, waffles and french toast, yum.  Quarts are $16, pints $10 plus shipping.  Once you’ve had this you will never go back.  We consider ourselves pure maple syrup snobs.


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