I was finally able to pack a good supply of dark syrup, my best seller by far. It took 5 days, but it is finally done. The reason for 5 days is because even with outside temperatures in the mid 70’s, it gets up to 95-100 in the sugarhouse when I pack syrup, 95-100 does not agree with me so I just do it in stages. One morning re-wash the finisher, mix tank, filter and bottler, then I pump the syrup into the 2′ x 6′ finisher. The next morning I heated it to about 160F and tested it for grade (the amount of light that passes thru a sample cuvette, (a round glass vial that is used in a test instrument to measure the amount of light that passes thru the sample). This time it was too near the low end of the scale to be Dark and since syrup gets a little darker each time it is heated I needed to make it lighter. I then opened a barrel of Amber syrup and blended in about 10 gal of amber which lightened the blend 12 points, perfect. The blend was then in the middle of the scale for dark syrup. The next morning I heated the blend, filtered it as it was pumped into the bottler. Then I brought the first 18 gal (the capacity of the bottler) up to 185 F for bottling. When that was finished the temperature in the sugarhouse was at 96F and it was real muggy, I finished labeling and went home for the day. The next day I pumped the next batch into the bottler and repeated the process, when finished it was 97 in the sugarhouse, I again went home.
The next day (yesterday) I had 14 gal more to process, I finished the hot part about 10 a.m. and then labeled the jugs. It had taken me 5 days, a process that takes me 1 or 2 days when the outside temperature is below 60F and when I have help, in cool weather just 1 day. With Covid-19 this year I am doing it all solo to minimize any risk of getting covid myself.
Jugs, seem to be an issue. In June I tried to get 4 cases of half gal jugs and 2 cases of qts, the supplier only had 1 case of each. This had never happened before. I bought them and held off bottling because of hot weather, my 2 coolers were still well stocked. About 9-10 days ago I tried to get more half gallon jugs because the forecast called for temperatures I could bottle in, they still had no jugs. I originally thought it just a Covid issue, I’m now wondering if that vendor might be getting ready to retire. At any rate, I bought another brand jug but as stated above, the half gallon size is a bad dimension for shipping. I had just 64 of the good for shipping jugs, the rest I bought will be used at my one retail outlet. I also had one local farmer who asked if I wanted to put some syrup at their farm stand, I may put some there too, it will help their sales and I’ll get another outlet. Maybe not needed so much this year but will be needed next year because I will then have more taps and the land owner from my recently retired lease will be selling me his sap, (he retires in December). I will then have far more syrup to sell.
I may need to think about putting AC into the sugarhouse, for use just when bottling in hot weather. I think an 8000 or 10,000 BTU unit would be fine ad I have the power to run it. Just thinking for now. I do own a 9000 BTU roll around unit, maybe I’ll try that. The issue is space, I’d need to shorten a counter top to fit it without blocking an aisle in the sugarhouse, a window mount type would not need that space even though if I go that route it would be wall mounted not window, my windows are all sliders and don’t accommodate an AC.
I need to figure what I’ll do for half gallon jugs, either another vendor who carries the brand I like, or I could go back to the brand I used to use, their HG jugs ship well, or find a way to get a good shipping rate for the new brand I got that does not fit in a medium flat rate box.