Maple syrup is made by boiling down the sap from sugar maple trees. The sap runs up the trunks from the roots for about six weeks in the early spring. When the trees “run” is very much dependent on Mother Nature. We need to have a few weeks of freezes and thaws. This fluctuation in temperature is what makes the sap flow.
The trees store starch in their roots before winter; in the spring, the starch is converted into sugar that rises in the form of sap to feed the growing buds. During warm periods when temperatures rise above freezing, pressure develops in the tree. This pressure causes the sap to flow out of the tree through a tap hole. The trees are not hurt by this and they have sap to spare. The cycle of warm and cool is essential. If the temperatures are right during the short “sap season” we will have good production.
Some of our pipe lines run straight in to the sugar house, but most go into large holding tanks in the woods. We collect the holding tanks with our gathering tank that has a sap pump on it. After bringing the sap to the sugar house we check the sap’s sugar content with a hydrometer. This gives us some idea of how sweet the sap is, and we know about how long it will take to cook down to syrup. We filter the sap twice before it goes in the sap pans.
It is then boiled down in our wood fired evaporator. We use a Leader arch (type of horizontal stove) and a stem away pan. We use a different kind of hydrometer to check the density of the syrup, to tell us if it ready or not. The syrup is then cleaned by running it through a filter press. It is filtered a second time before being bottled hot and is then all ready to be taken home and enjoyed!