Yesterday wrapped up our fifth season, and while we hoped for another two weeks of production we’re happy to have a much needed break. Great February weather did not continue through March, however we still managed to produce 500 more gallons than last year, continuing our yearly improvement streak. Already looking forward to 2021, this summer we plan on making our operation as efficient, prepared, and failure proof as possible while holding off on new taps and any sugar shack additions. Thank you to all of our workers who made this season possible, it wouldn’t have happened without all of your hard work and dedication!
The average adult needs 2000-2500 calories per day to maintain their body weight. There are approximately 12,800 calories in a gallon of maple syrup, almost a weeks worth of energy. Yesterday we bottled 552 gallons fresh off the evaporator, roughly ten years worth of calories. We definitely don’t recommend living off only maple syrup for the next decade, maybe a gallon every two weeks is more realistic?
What a year it’s been already. Between favorable weather, some incredible employees, all of the experience gained over the last few seasons, and a little luck with equipment not breaking (mostly), we’re on pace for a record year. As of Friday’s boil (1206 gallons made) we’re at 66% of last years crop. With the sap hauled today plus what’s in our tanks/evaporator we estimate we have another 900 gallons worth, which would put us at 85%. Let’s hope this March is like last years and the sap keeps flowing!
We never had a chance to post pictures of our new Reverse Osmosis (RO) room! Our previous room was 65 square feet with a 7′ ceiling, our new one is 200 square feet with 11′ ceilings. Everything about the new setup is an improvement from before, much easier to run/modify and clean. We’ve also added a ninth vessel and replaced three aging membranes with high brix ones. Our sap has been coming in around 1.3-1.5% sugar so far this year, we’ve been sweetening it up to 20% on one pass with the old eight membranes before chilling. This week we’ll experiment going to 25%+ with the extra vessel and new membranes. Next up we may replace one or two more of the other aging membranes and potentially reconfigure the high pressure pumps for more throughput.
Yesterday we broke our daily production record and made 1040 gallons of maple syrup off one boil, that’s 26 drums! We actually had another 300 gallons of syrup worth of sap/concentrate but since our chiller is up and running we decided to call it quits after ten hours of boiling. We’re currently hauling the last of our sap before the upcoming freeze and will boil again later this week. We should make another 700-1000 gallons and should be somewhere between 2200-2500 before March 1st! Check out this time lapse Lauren took from the first few hours
We’re so far behind posting lately since we’ve been so busy in the woods and sugar shack. We’ll keep posting every few days now even if the content is slightly dated.
It wouldn’t be maple season without equipment failure. Since almost everything has failed at one point or another over the last five years we’re getting pretty good at fixing things.
First, we forgot a Romex connector on one of our Busch pump motors, and as a result mice got in, chewed wires, and built a next inside this 10 horse motor. Of course it was the most difficult pump house to access, but we were able to replace this broken 160 pound motor with a more efficient three-phase motor and VFD.
Second, one of our submersible pumps seals broke and the connection corroded. We always have backup equipment now for things like this, the only sap we lost was the little we had to drain to exchange the pump wire, and a new connector is on order.
All 22,000 taps are in, we should have our first full-sized run early next week!
Lately we’ve been too busy tapping, collecting sap, and getting everything else ready in order to post much, but we’re just too excited about this latest project to wait any longer. We’ve been dreaming up this idea for over a year, and yesterday we finally got it running with Espyville Heating and Air Conditioning. A little background – Sap has a shelf life measured in days, as soon as it exits the tree bacteria and yeast start attacking it. Sap concentrate has a shelf life measured in hours, not only is the sugar concentrated from ~1.5% to 20% but the bacteria is concentrated equally as much! Anyone with a kitchen refrigerator knows that cold temperatures inhibit growth. This 5-ton chiller circulates below freezing glycol through a heat exchanger while concentrate is also circulated. At 22% sugar the mix won’t freeze until ~28°, and almost all microbial activity is stopped. We then fill the 3000 gallon tank at our own pace, knowing the chiller and insulated room will keep it cold. Instead of boiling once per day we can now boil once per week at a time of our choosing. Syrup quality should improve, leaving us more high-grade barrels for candy/cream/sugar. Tomorrow we’ll fire up the evaporator and turn this tank of concentrate into 750 gallons of syrup. Stay tuned, we’ll try to post more now that the season is on