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Barrel Aged Maple Syrup
|Maple Syrup||Barrel Aged Maple Syrup|
|Maple Candy||Maple Cream|
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
Over the last few months we’ve been moving around lots of tanks. Our home property was limited last year by storage, three 4,000 gallon tanks and our 4,200 gallon/hour RO couldn’t keep up with our NASCAR sap truck driver while our woods were also pouring sap into them. We also had some plastic overflow tanks on the other properties, those are gone now as we much prefer stainless tanks. This year we now have two 8,500 gallon tanks at our house and seven 4,000 gallon plus two 3,000 gallon tanks out in our woods. That’s 54,000 gallons of sap storage! We also connected them at the top with overflows instead of at the bottom where the valves are located, now we can clean one while simultaneously collecting in the other. Next up is to re-attach filter manifolds and build a catwalk on our home tanks so we can pressure wash them easier, we’ll save that until after the taps are in early next month.