Archive

 

Saturday Syrup

by Peter 3/26/2018 7:00:00 AM

It has remained pretty cool in the woods, keeping our tubing lines frozen most days until early to mid-afternoon.  However, when they have thawed out, we have had some pretty good flows.  On Saturday morning we started the reverse osmosis machine around sunrise, processed 1400 gallons of sap and by dinner we had made 47 gallons of Dark Robust syurp.

An interesting fact that I read last year in The Maple News said that Sugar Maple buds emerge after 114 growing degree days.  A growing degree is any degree above 50 degrees.  So if today's high is 58, it counts as 8 growing degrees.  If tomorrow it hits 63, that is 13 more growing degrees for a total of 21.  Once you hit 114, the buds emerge and the season is over.  So far we haven't had any growing degree days and there aren't any in the 10 day forecast.  As we all know, weather forecasts can change dramatically.  But for the time being, it appears that this maple syrup season will continue for several weeks.

First Syrup for 2018

by Peter 3/19/2018 7:43:00 AM

The 2018 maple syrup season has had an underwhelming start.  February and March have been cool to cold.  We collected our first sap a couple of weeks ago, but the flows were so slow that we had to dump the sap out.  Maple sap is a perishable product, so if we can't process it relatively quickly we have to discard it.  To start our season we need about 1500 gallons of sap, or 1.5 gallons per tap from our 1000 tap sugarbush.  The sap goes through a filter, into a reverse osmosis machine which removes 75% or the water and then into our evaporator.  Our 1500 gallons of raw sap (2% sugar) is reduced to 375 gallons of concentrated sap (8% sugar).  It takes about 75-100 gallons of sap to fill the pans of our 4'x12' evaporator, so that leaves us with a little less than 300 gallons of concentrated sap in our tank.  We weren't expecting to get any syrup yesterday because typically the first boil only establishes a concentration gradient in the pan.  The pan is sort of like a line corral at the airport security check point or an amusement park--a long winding maze.  We continually put the cold sap from the tank into the pan in the same spot, but evaporation is taking place on the entire pan.  This results in the sap becoming more and more concentrated the further it is away from the input for the cold sap.  After boiling for a few hours on our wood fired evaporator, we had our first syrup of 2018.  We made 15 gallons of Amber Rich maple syrup.

Looking at the picture above, you can see different grades of syrup.  All maple syrup has the same amount of sugar (66% to 67%) but the color is different depending on the weather, how fast the sap flow is and how quickly you can process it.  One grade isn't better or worse than the others, but they do taste differently.  The lighter the syrup, the more "delicate" the flavor profile.  The darker the syrup, the "stronger" or more pronounced the maple flavor is.  As a general rule lighter colored syrup is made earlier in the season and darker syrup later in the season.  The syrup we made yesterday was the color of the second lightest bottle in the picture, graded as "Amber Rich".  The four grades are:

Golden Delicate

Amber Rich

Dark Robust

Very Dark Strong

The extended forecast of day time temperatures in the forties and night time temperatures in the twenties looks promising for sap flow.     

Waiting for warmer weather . . . . still

by Mary 3/12/2018 7:55:00 AM

With little to no sap flow in the past week, we've had a chance to power wash equipment, find leaks in tubing, and bottle syrup, so we have enough barrels for this year's crop of maple syrup. While we were bottling last week, we had a fun visit with Molly Rosenblatt, WCCO TV meteorologist and her cameraman, Brad. Here is a link to their story on Somerskogen Sugarbush:

http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2018/03/07/maple-syrup-season/

The long range forecast looks terrific for sap flow!

 
Let the maple syrup season begin!