Making Maple Syrup

>> Sunday, March 1, 2009

For the last several years we have been involved in making maple syrup.  Our good friend, Gill, who lives a few miles from us, has set up quite a system for collecting and evaporating down the maple sap.  He has been quite generous in helping us in previous years and again this year has extended to us his complete set-up.  He said he had made all of the syrup he wished to make and since the sap was still flowing he said he was glad for us to collect it and evaporate it down, using his equipment.

It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.  The excess water must be evaporated away, leaving the sweet maple syrup.  We are still in the process but the following photos will show you what is involved.

Mar 1st 008Each maple tree has had a small hole drilled into it and a short plastic or metal spile is driven into the hole.  Onto this spile is hung a gallon plastic jug to catch the sap.  The sap flows generally when the night has had below freezing temperatures and then warms up the following day.

Mar 1st 005Gill has mounted a poly tote onto the back of his tractor.  It is driven into the woods when sap collection is done.  The jugs from each tree are taken down, the sap poured into a plastic bucket and when the bucket is full the sap is poured into the tote.  Note the old milk strainer on top which is used to strain out any debris that may have gotten into the sap.

Mar 1st 017The sap is transferred from the tote on the tractor to this one which is on a metal stand.  Due to the weight of the sap the tote on the tractor can not be filled completely full.  This holding tank can be filled completely full and since it is on the stand sap can be put into the evaporator pan by gravity.  The transfer of sap is accomplished with the use of a small electric pump.

Mar 1st 002Pictured here is Gill with his evaporator.  The bottom section is a wood burning furnace.  The evaporator pan sits on top and holds approximately 40 gallons of sap.

Mar 1st 003  Sap is flowing into the evaporator pan from the storage tank outside the building.

Mar 1st 013    Evaporation is underway.  As you can see it gets a bit “cloudy” in the building and occasionally even “rains.”  Condensation on the underside of the metal roof drips down and it seems to be raining.

Due to several factors the evaporation is not totally completed in this evaporator.  Today Darryl and I processed about 60 gallons of sap and ended up with about 5 gallons of concentrated sap that still has to have the final evaporation done.  This we are doing in stock pots on top of our wood burning cook stove.  Once it reaches the point of syrup it will be put into jars and sealed for future use.

3 comments:

LillyZoo March 2, 2009 at 8:23 AM  

Thank you for your post. We experimented with our first batch of maple sugar this weekend (I over cooked it with out a themometer). It is truly an art to get the syrup just right. not that easy.

Anonymous March 5, 2009 at 5:30 AM  

Hi just visiting you from your wife's page. Very interesting as Bloomington IL is just down the road from me on RT 9.

Beth Marie

Anonymous March 6, 2009 at 4:22 PM  

Visiting from your wife's blog. I used to do that when I lived on the reservation in northern Wisconsin. That was about 35 or 40 years ago. We used to also collect wild rice and spear fish on Lake Superior during the winter. It was a lot of fun but I am pretty old for all of that now. Not really but now I live in Houston and it is a different world. Great blog.
Cheryl

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