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Happy new year to everyone!

Dave Klish

May everyone have a great 2020. May your dreams come true (the good ones that is).

We had a great 2019 at CNY Maple, and I had a good year too. Tomorrow I’ve got to go pick up a few more cases of 1/2 gal jugs, then on Friday I need to pack more syrup (dark). Then next week I need to pack (from a SS barrel) more Amber syrup, later in the week I need to empty the 15 gal bourbon barrel aged maple syrup and pack it into bottles.

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Christmas orders

Dave Klish

When ordering for Christmas delivery, whether for delivery to you or another address, place the order no later than 12/15 for delivery to the lower 48 and if for Alaska or Hawaii no later than 12/10. If ordered later than this the post office does not guarantee delivery by Christmas. I will ship the next day for any order received by 6:00 EST. If there is ever an issue with being able to ship the next day, I will send an email to notify the purchaser.

Thank you, and Merry Christmas to all.

We will be packing more Dark this Friday and if needed, more Amber early next week. I have more in SS barrels in both grades. Also, we have a bourbon barrel aged maple syrup that will be taste tested to determine if it is ready. It has been 7.5 months this week. This is our first ever 15 gal barrel, we age our 10 gal barrels 6 months, we need to find how much longer it takes for the larger size barrel. Larger sizes take longer because the gallons increase faster than the internal surface area of the barrel.

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Grading syrup old method vs. new method

Dave Klish

A few years ago the maple industry adopted a new grading system. Before that, thru the maple producing world there were several grading standards, states and provinces in Canada each had their own grading system. This confused the consumers, if someone bought a particular grade they really liked, and then bought syrup from another area the names and standards of the grades might be quite different.

With the new grading system this has all changed, now syrup made in one area is graded the same as any other location that makes maple syrup. Along with this change came some new technology. The old method of grading (gauging what color the syrup is in) was done primarily using “temporary grading kits”. These kits were manufactured every year and had an expiration date, generally under 2 years. The reason was that the samples in the kit darkened with age. Those samples were not even maple syrup, but rather glycerine with some burnt sugar to add the exact amount of color to define that grade. Each grade bottle in the sample kit was the darkest a maple syrup sample could be to be graded with the name associated with that color. Soon after the new grading system was introduced, with all grades based on the percentage of light transmission for grading the color (several other points I will cover later) a company invented a test instrument to read the % of light passing thru a sample and this instrament was within price reach of even small producers. It utilizes a small “cuvette” made of glass into which the maple syrup being graded is put, with a full line on the cuvette. Not filling it exactly to the line, not slightly under or over will result in an erronius reading. Once filled the test instrament is turned on. A push of a button turns it on and another push (there is only one button) shows on the the screen that the reference sample should be inserted. This sample is a cuvette filled only with 100% glycerine, supplied with the test kit. That cuvette is inserted, the cover is closed and the button is pushed again. In 3-4 seconds the screen shows 100%, indicating 100% of the light from an internal bulb has passed thru the glycerine. This test is done with every test, because the amount of light from the bulb will vary as the battery in the instrament slowly loses strength. The instrament screen will also indicate if a new battery is needed. After the glycerine sample gives a 100% reading, the instrament is opened, that cuvette is removed and a cuvette containing the sample of syrup being graded is inserted. The button is pushed again and 3-4 seconds later the screen displays the percentage of light that passed through that sample of pure maple syrup. From there it is simple. A sample passing 100-75% of the light is golden color, delicate taste, 74-50% is Amber color, rich taste, 49-25% is Dark color, Robust taste and less than 25% is very dark color, strong taste.

Then comes the other requirements for that batch of syrup to be graded according the those stated above. One test is that the taste must fall within the norm for that grade of syrup, another is that there must not be any off aftertaste. Another point is that the syrup must be clear (filtered so it sparkles). If all of these are met, that batch of syrup can be labeled at the grade indicated by the % of light transmission. If a sample fails any one of those tests it must be sold as process grade, which can not be sold the the end consumer, but rather to bulk buyers who have the ability to process the syrup for other uses, such as cereal coating, flavoring in various products and other uses too. The only exception is if a sample is not crystal clear, it can be heated and filtered again. In that case it needs to be tested again, because every time syrup is re-heated it gets darker.

Hopefully this helps more than confuses those who read this post. I find the biggest advantage is the simplicity of getting the color of the syrup for grading. Before, using the temporary grade kits we had to fill a specific sample bottle then hold that up to bright natural light in a test tray to compare it with th official samples in the kit. The test tray had a window cut out of the sides of the wooden tray to allow the natural light to pass thru. Then it was sometimes a guessing game if the color of the syrup was lighter, the same as or slightly darker than the official grade bottle. Days with less than bright natural light (and we have a lot of them in maple season) also made reading the grades more difficult. This new method removes that.

With all of those factors, there is one other factor that is not related to the grade of the syrup. that is “where was the syrup made”? The soils and weather patterns where the trees are makes a big difference, much like fine wine, pure maple syrup from different areas has a different taste, even though it is the same grade. That is where we are very lucky and also why as I buy maple sap from other producers to supplement my sap needs, I do not buy it from those who are not close to my location. My area “according to reports from my repeat customers” seems to taste better. Years ago I ran out of syrup and had to refer my customers to a couple of other producers who were 15-20 miles from me, all of those customers returned to me in the following years, saying the other syrup, while good, was just not the same. They preferred my syrup. We are blessed indeed!

While we are a small producer, we still serve a large area. We have customers who order from all over the United States and while I don’t ship overseas, I have gotten reports of several of my customers who have shipped it to friends and business associates in other countries. We sell a lot of our syrup locally, from the sugarhouse and from our 1 retail outlet, plus a great demand on our website for our syrup to be shipped to customers and to their relatives. Business is good.

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Packed more syrup

Dave Klish

Wednesday and Thursday we packed more syrup. I had 1 barrel labeled Golden but after heating and filtering it again, it had gotten darker and had to be labeled as Amber, Rich taste. Each time syrup is heated again, even though it is not boiled, it gets darker and in the process the maple taste gets more pronounced.

While I have very little call for Golden syrup, I still like to have a little on hand in case someone wants to order it, but I will not have any more golden syrup until at least the 2020 season. Even then, sometimes I get very little golden, making much more Amber and Dark. That trend may be more evident in the future because of what I boil in compared to the number of taps I have. As I’m getting older I find the steep hills on my leased trees are getting to be too much, and thus I’m not going to tap that lease this next year.

The landowner however says he is planning to tap and collect the sap from there, starting in 2021 but he will not be boiling. I offered to boil the sap on shares, he gets a % of the syrup and I keep the rest. The % he gets will depend on the sap sugar % when he delivers it. The higher the sugar, the higher the percentage of the syrup made he gets back, or the more I pay him for the sap.

In the 2020 season I might possibly not get any Golden syrup. The biggest reason is because I still have an evaporator big enough to process the sap from about 1500-2000 taps but I will only have about 450 taps on it, plus I usually get sap from 1 or 2 other producers to boil on shares. If the landowner of the lease I’m not gong to work does start collecting and bringing that sap to me, I will likely be able to make some golden.

The biggest factor on what grade of syrup is made is how long any particular drop of syrup spends in the evaporator and a big evaporator for the quantity of sap to boil means the evaporator is boiled fewer hours to use up the sap and then it sets in the pan until the next day, sometimes more, before it is boiled again. When an evaporator can be run hard and long is when the most light colored syrup is made.

For me however this is not usually an issue, by far my highest demand is for Dark syrup, followed by a much lower call for Amber (and as stated above, an even lower call for Golden)

2013 was the last year I had my largest number of taps. That year I had 1320 taps plus I had 4 other producers who brought sap for me to boil on shares. This past season I only had 725 taps and only one other producer brought sap (the others had built a sugarhouse and gotten an evaporator of their own). The producer who brought sap now boils on his own small evaporator and only brings sap when he has too much to boil on his own evaporator.

In 2015 I also bought outright sap twice from an Amish producer who had to stop processing before the season was over because of other commitments. I bought 820 gal 2 times near the end of the season (820 is all I can haul in one load)

If I wasn’t planning to be getting sap after one more year from the landowner of my old lease I would sell my evaporator and buy a smaller one.