Tour the Sugarhouse
Before the maple sugaring season even begins, workers are very busy in the sugarwoods. General repairs to the maple sapline are made caused from wind and animal damage. Sometimes old lines are changed to new lines and new taps are added to trees that have grown. Most people think that the work during the season only lasts 3 to 6 weeks, but sugarmakers spend a lot of time in the woods throughout the year maintaining their lines for efficiency and cleanliness.
Boiling starts around the beginning of March, sometimes at the end of February. When the nights are clear and cold, below freezing, and the days are warm and sunny, above freezing, the sap will run from the trees. We collect this sap from our 11,000 taps and boil it to evaporate the water and make sweet maple syrup. On this day a low pressure system pushed the steam down making for a very eerie picture.
When the sap gets to the sugarhouse, it is stored in large holding tanks. We make maple syrup as soon as there is enough sap to start the equipment. Maple sap ferments over time. Keeping the sap cold and processing quickly preserves the quality of the syrup.
Our sugarhouse is equipped with a Reverse Osmosis (RO) machine. This machine is kept in a small room that is heated. All the sap first goes through the RO machine where it is filtered and put through a membrane that only a water molecule can pass. It takes an average of 40 gallons of maple sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. The RO machine eliminates 75% of the water. The elimination of water reduces time and energy used to produce the syrup and it saves wear on the evaporator.
The concentrated sap is pumped from the RO to an overhead storage tank that is above the sugarhouse. With the use of float boxes the sap gravity feeds into the evaporator.
The evaporator boils away the rest of the water. When heat is applied to the sap it brings out the maple color and flavor. Maple syrup is boiled to a temperature 7 degrees above the boiling point of water or 218 degrees F. The density of the syrup is checked with a hydrometer for 32 degrees on the Baume scale.
The syrup is then filtered through the press and the syrup is stored in food grade barrels. Throughout the year, we’re busy in the sugarhouse kitchen canning syrup and making maple products.