Each Spring, about the second week in March, when the snow begins to melt and the roads begin to turn to mud, we tap about 400 sugar maple trees to make maple syrup. It is the first activity in the woods we are able to due each year as a family. It has become a favorite activity for our family of 3 kids and 16 grandkids. All enjoy collecting the sap, and feeding the wood-fired evaporator. (They also find time to explore and play in the woods.) We use both bags and tubing for our collection system.
When collecting sap from the bags, we go from tree to tree with our tractor, and pour the sap into the 3-point mounted tank.
It is then brought back to the evaporator, where it is pumped up to a storage tank. The tubing gravity-feeds the sap to several collection tanks, which are emptied periodically with the tractor. Our evaporator boils about 50 gallons of sap per hour. The fresh sap is usually about 2.5-3.0% sugar, and by boiling off water concentrates the sugar to about 96%. When it reaches that point (as tested by an hydrometer), it is declared syrup.
It takes an average of 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. The finished syrup is then brought back to the bakery kitchen, where it is filtered to take out the impurities.
It is then bottled into quarts and several different decorative bottles. It is then put out for display and sale in our retail shop.