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Correction on grade

Maple syrup darkens slightly every time it’s heated, the Amber barrel I was packing darkened just enough that it changed from Amber to Dark. In processing it I heated it to about 175 to filter it, then after filtering it the temperature was down to about 135 as it was pumped into the bottler. To bottle, it needs to be 180-190F, I heated it to 185 and then tested the grade (color), it was then Dark at 49% light transmission. Amber is 74-50%, Dark is 49-25%. In the heating to filter and then heating it up to bottle it had changed from 52% down to 49%. If I get a chance in by Wednesday, I’ll try to pack more Amber. However, if I don’t get it done by Wednesday, I’ll be laid up until late May from having surgery, and a no lifting order.

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I’m finally catching up.

Today I filled a barrel and got the bottler filled too. Tomorrow I’ll be packing more amber syrup.

I ran into a problem with my tractor, which set me back 2 days. It wouldn’t start. Check battery, it’s good, check battery cable clamps, one is bad, broken on one of 2 bands around battery post. (I don’t like those cheap cable clamps) I remove old clamp, attach new clamp (lead this time) but still won’t start.

Next I check the main fuse, opps, the fuse holder fell off in my hand, corroded wires. Call dealer, he doesn’t carry replacements, I go to NAPA, needing a 50A inline fuse holder and fuse, bought it at one store, had to drive 5 miles to another branch to get it, (Or wait 2 hours and it would be delivered to the first store. Then, of course, it’s a different design, so I had to cut off the original connectors, then crimp the new fuse holder into the wiring, (I really don’t like crimp connectors) but the tractor started. I’ll put that on my to do list, for summer, find a main fuse holder that can be attached by tightening screws and not crimp connections. However it must be small, there’s not much room for it to fit in the available space. I really doesn’t seem right for a 2012 tractor to need this, my 1981 tractor (but no loader to lift barrels) still has it’s original wiring fully intact.

Anyways, I’m finally ready to do syrup again, it’s sure a good thing I’m retired and don’t have a regular job to get in the way.

As I said above, I’ll bottle some amber tomorrow and tomorrow evening I’ll update the store inventory counts. I will be packing half pints, pints, some quarts and some half gallons, all in amber. So far I’ve gotten no dark yet, but it will likely change to dark soon, especially since the temperatures are on the warm side. As soon as I get some dark, I’ll fill in that inventory too and update my inventory on my website. By the way, this year’s amber is fantastic tasting for sure.

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New season has begun

I now have more amber syrup. I’ll likely get a chance this Tuesday or Wednesday to pack more jugs of pint and half pint of amber syrup which I’m currently out of, plus more qts and half gal to fill out my inventory. The rest will be put into a SS barrel. For production, this coming week looks quite good for sap flow, time will tell if production of dark gets here or not. Sometimes the change from amber to dark happens in 2-3 days, at other times it can take a week, sometimes even 2 weeks.

I go in for surgery on the 25 of March, and won’t be able to work syrup on the 24th, if the changeover takes that long it may be 6 or more weeks before I can pack more dark. After surgery I will be on a no lifting mandate for 6-8 weeks. However, if I can get a grandson to pack syrup, at about 4 weeks I might be able to watch and coach him, he has worked the evaporator and in the woods, but never packed syrup. I have another grandson who has packed lots of syrup, but Uncle Sam has him, and he is out of the country.

Time will tell. If I do get more dark syrup packed I will put it up on the store inventory.

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First boil of the season

We finally had a first boil for 2022, on 2/22/22. Sap then ran all night, thru mid afternoon 2/23, now everything is frozen again. This year I’m not making the syrup, but a good friend is doing it, and will supply my needs, he makes excellent New York syrup, excellent flavor always.

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Look like the new season will start soon

Based on the forecast it looks like our new season for 2022 will start in the near future. Tapping is half done and there might be enough sap to get a first boil by Thursday (or Friday) By then most tapping will also be finished. Any tapping still needed will be finished over the weekend.

I can’t wait for the aroma of syrup being made, that’s the best part of maple syrup production. By late next week , if the forecast is correct, I should start having more syrup. I will add to my inventory as soon as it’s ready to sell. Usually it will start with Amber, and a week or 2 later it changes to Dark.

While I never ran out of those two grades of syrup, I did run out of some sizes in both grades.

A refresher, for those who don’t fully understand the grades. For years the grade (basically the color and thus the intensity of the maple flavor) was given in one of at least 7 grading systems depending on where it was made. New York had one grading system (along with a few other states), Vermont had it’s own grading system, several other states had a couple of other grading systems, Quebec had another, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland/Labrador another and Ontario another. Then a few years ago, the International Maple Syrup Council proposed a single standardized grading system and over the new 3 or 4 years it was adopted by the entire maple producing world. Now it is based on the % of light transmission thru a specific test bottle. 100-75% is Golden, 74-50% is Amber, 49-25% is Dark and less than 25% is Extra dark, the darker it is, the more intense the maple flavor. To be labeled as any of these grades the syrup must have no off flavor nor after taste different from what that grade should taste like, if any such after taste it must be sold as Commercial (processing grade) and cannot be sold retail. The really big processors have ways they can turn it into usable products. It among many other things gets sold to cereal companies for coating cereals, to companies like those who sell non maple syrup and say “with real maple added”. One of the ways that commercial syrup is processed is to convert it to sugar at very high temperatures, which apparently removes the after tastes. Another use for it is in other industrial uses.

Now regardless of where a customer buys maple syrup, it is all graded using the same grading system, but that does not mean it all tastes the same. I’ve been told by many repeat customers that my syrup tastes better than some they’ve bought from others. While my pallet isn’t quite that educated, it is said that professional taste testers can actually tell what area a syrup was made in, each has it’s own unique taste. That is because the soils are all different and the local soils make each area’s syrup taste slightly different. Apparently, Central NEW York is one of the best locals for the best tasting syrup.

A bit of trivia, maple syrup is only made in one large region in the whole world. That is in a large, pie shaped area along the east coast of North America, from about Virginia, West Virginia northward thru Canada up to Nova Scotia/Labrador. As the region heads westward it narrows until it ends someplace in Wisconsin and Minnesota and on a map it is pretty much shaped like a slice of pie. No other region in the entire world has the right combination of maple resource, soils, weather and other resources that produce real maple syrup. Yes there are minor exceptions, other types of maples aside from the 4 main commercial ones which are sugar maple, red maple, black maple and silver maples, but those operations are very small and rarely able to produce more than what they and their friends use. I read maybe 15 years ago that China had planted huge orchards of sugar maples, but I’ve never heard anything more about it since.

The market for real maple syrup has grown considerably in the last 30-40 years. Before that maple syrup was consumed mostly in the maple producing region in North America, very little was exported. Now much of Europe and Asia, are big markets for our pure maple syrup and the areas buying maple syrup expand every year. While I don’t regularly ship internationally, I have on rare occasions sent syrup to the Caribbean area via church groups, some to New Zealand and Australia. I have shipped to every state in the US, including Alaska and Hawaii. Many of the states have some of my long time repeat customers. I do not ship to Canada, never tried, Canada produces about 75% of the entire annual maple syrup crop in the maple producing region, most of which is from Quebec. That % may be changing, in the US there are a few newer operations (or expansions) that added several hundred thousand taps. One in Eden Vt, has added about 200,000 taps and is projected to grow to 400,000 taps in 3-4 years, with all sap flowing to one huge sugarhouse, with huge Reverse Osmosis Machines and huge evaporators, each of which process all of the sap from about 50,000 taps. The most I ever had was 1320 taps and that kept me , 2 grandsons and another of their friends busy, especially when repairing lines preseason and when tapping. That one in Eden, VT is only 1 of several huge operations in the US.