Post Reply 
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Maple Sugaring
03-03-2016, 11:06 AM (This post was last modified: 03-03-2016 02:55 PM by Maine Democrat.)
Post: #21
RE: Maple Sugaring
We originally started out sugaring with a pan setting on a cinder block fireplace out in the weather. We only ran a few taps and saved up the sap until we had enough for a boil. We could pick our weather because we had a limited amount of sap. Boiling sap this way had a few issues like bugs, smoke, soot and other trash falling into the boil. The cold wind hitting the side of the pan would slow the boil and our firewood was always damp at best. Later we had a barrel stove built that was cut out so that the pan could set down inside which helped some with the cold wind. We like to share the syrup with family, friends and neighbors so we added more taps.

After a couple years, we added more taps and started giving out syrup to more people that we associated with. This created more time boiling with wet wood and we often found ourselves boiling sap in bad weather. Finally, I couldn’t stand it and built a 12x16 sugar shack. We bought a new evaporator stove and chimney and we added more taps. We were thrilled to be under a roof. The shack has 4 large windows and 2 gable end vents. Depending on the conditions and wind direction, we can raise or lower the windows to let the steam out and keep the cold wind off of the evaporator. The building has a steel roof on purlins. We filled half the shack with firewood which was very handy. Unfortunately, the steam condensed on the underside of the roof and dripped everywhere. The dry wood got damp on top and so did we. With all those windows open and the open eve ventilation, the temperature inside wasn’t very warm during cold days.

This past year, I built a partition wall in the middle and sealed off the firewood with a sliding door. I also sealed the 12 pitch ceiling in the evaporator room with vapor barrier and then white vinyl sheets. Then I installed a gutter drainage system inside. Now water condenses on the vinyl, drips into the gutters and is directed outside. We don’t get wet and neither does the firewood. The wall also makes the evaporator room much warmer and allows us to control the airflow better. These two things have resulted with cutting our firewood consumption almost in half.

Next year we are looking to add a thermal electric generator http://www.tegpower.com/pro7.htm to power lights, exhaust fan and sap pump. The exhaust fan should allow us to keep most of the windows close resulting in controlled air/steam flow and warmer temperatures inside. We are also going to get rid of all the sap barrels and lugging sap inside by deploying a 500 gallon milk tank next to the shack and pumping the sap from there into the warming pan on the evaporator.

By the way, we get some of our supplies like filters and such from The Maple Guys in New Hampshire. http://www.mapleguys.com/
They are very good on getting our order shipped ASAP and we usually get it in a couple of days. I guess they understand the business pretty well. I just ordered pre-filters yesterday and got them today.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
03-08-2016, 05:51 PM
Post: #22
RE: Maple Sugaring
We are on our last boil and should be done in 2-3 days. I looked at our records and realized that we have been boiling sap for 18 straight days! No wonder I have been more dopey that usual. Our evaporator is too small, we put in too many taps and we have to boil 50 to 1 with red maple are the reasons for so much boiling. We will end up with around 35 gallons of the best smelling & tasting maple syrup for our efforts however.


[Image: 20160308_170547_1.jpg]
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
03-08-2016, 10:30 PM
Post: #23
RE: Maple Sugaring
I was hoping for a run today but it was poor.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
03-09-2016, 05:30 AM
Post: #24
RE: Maple Sugaring
(03-08-2016 10:30 PM)Mike G Wrote:  I was hoping for a run today but it was poor.

It ran all last night so you should have a good collection this morning and tonight.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
03-09-2016, 09:47 PM
Post: #25
RE: Maple Sugaring
Sap ran like crazy here today. The "sugar guy" in Dover was running around in his old Charleston Fire Dept tank truck, gathering sap from all over the place. Still has the fire dept name on the truck. This is a typical "Mainer" trick. Fake everyone out with it. Hope nobody has a fire and tries to flag him down when loaded with sap!

WC
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
03-10-2016, 01:55 PM
Post: #26
RE: Maple Sugaring
I am removing the maple taps today and will finish off the last boil tomorrow.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
03-11-2016, 06:26 AM (This post was last modified: 03-11-2016 06:49 AM by Maine Democrat.)
Post: #27
RE: Maple Sugaring
I don't know why, but each year, removing the taps at the end of the season is a time of reflection for me. I think about the start when I looked ahead at the weather and decided when to put them it. Each tree is looked at to determine if they are healthy enough and to where the best place is for the tap. Each hole is carefully drilled with a slight downward angle to allow drainage and then cleaned of chips and dust. The cleaned taps are carefully driven in just enough to seal, but not enough to prevent hanging the jug or hard enough to crack the edge of the hole. A cleaned plastic jug with two carefully cut holes is hung on each tap. One small hole to let air in when you are pouring, but not so big to let too many insects in. The larger hole must fit tight enough to the tap to prevent the wind from blowing it off, but must be loose enough for repeated removal and attachment.

The grove gets a little sprucing up each year to remove bushes and fallen limbs that block the pathways between trees. Nearly every day for approximately two months, each tap is visited twice daily and the sap transfered to large buckets for lugging to the sugar house. This year we lugged about 1650 gallons of sap weighing around 14,000 pounds. This sap is poured through a screen to remove debris into barrels for temporary storage. That sap is lugged again into the sugar house and poured into the warming pan on the evaporator. The sap runs through a screen on its way into the evaporator. Then we boil the sap countless hours using the 7.5 cords of wood that I prepared the previous year. We spent around 21 days boiling sap this year for a total near 170 hours. The syrup is taken off in batches of manageable size so that the syrup doesn't get too dark from over boiling. The syrup is pre-filtered to remove the majority of particulate, then placed back into the pan for finishing. To finish, we stop putting in fresh sap, keep the fire low and watch the temperature gage. As it approaches 219 degrees, we start checking the specific gravity with our maple syrup hydrometer. When it reaches the mark, I remove the remaining fire and the syrup is taken off. We filter it through a pre-filter placed inside a big felt filter. We clean the pan between batches. The syrup is either frozen for personal use or canned in various size bottles to give away.

So as I put the taps on another season I am too tired to think clearly, but I think of many things. I think of the pain in my foot from stumbling over a root, dealing with frozen sap, the chimney damage we had, the boredom, the things my time could have been better spent on, but most of all I wonder why do I do it and if I will next year. Maybe I will cut back some next year.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
03-11-2016, 06:40 AM (This post was last modified: 03-11-2016 06:52 AM by Mike G.)
Post: #28
RE: Maple Sugaring
MD

Considering the amount of time, equipment and effort, I wondered how those that do it commercially could make a go of it.

Must be a labor of love, a ritual of living in a rural state, the good life away from the the urban insanity.

It's a lot like hunting/fishing, considering the time and effort and if unsuccessful, best just to go to Walmart. But what a horror that would be, buying all your syrup and meat fish from walmart.

I've always loved hunting ducks and back in earlier times, you'd go out and get in some good gunning, but now with houses everywhere, access closed, you hunt for a place to hunt.

Every so often though you will luck into a hunt that makes the effort worthwhile and you will remember this was as good or almost as good as it used to be.

My 10 trees are done, this warm weather is the end of it. I've got my syrup for the coming year.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
03-11-2016, 10:08 PM
Post: #29
RE: Maple Sugaring
We still have a few days to go but Spring is definitely in the air. We were later getting going than you were as it stayed below freezing until just recently. It seems like it was a short season in the highlands.

I used to live for deer hunting and used to take my weeks vacation between the Wednesday the week before, and hunt until the Monday after Thanksgiving, ten wonderful days. I got several on Thanksgiving day itself, which was always a thrill.

When I had to go back to work I felt just like you do when you shut the fire down......a little sad, like the week after Christmas when we were kids.

WC
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
04-10-2016, 11:10 AM
Post: #30
RE: Maple Sugaring
This is a picture of our first sap evaporator. It was made from cement blocks and had three separate fires and evaporator pans. It was farely fast but was out in the weather.
[Image: 8_AA3.jpg]
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply 


Forum Jump:


User(s) browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)

Contact Us | My Site | Return to Top | Return to Content | Lite (Archive) Mode | RSS Syndication