Posted on Leave a comment

More syrup almost ready

I packed more amber syrup, but it was too hot from bottling, I will get it tomorrow and bring it home, at that point I’ll add it to my inventory in my storefront, ready to pack and ship. Once I finish bottling the amber I’ll then bottle more bourbon barrel aged syrup. The last time I bottled that I had more than I wanted to dedicate to a specific size bottle, (I sell 3 sizes) so I put the extra in gallon jugs. Now I’ll pack some from those gallon jugs.

I have the next batch aging now, it should be ready about late November or early December, just in time for Christmas gifts. That is a 30 gal barrel, which is larger than any previous batch, most have been 15 gal or 20 gal, this time I bought a recently emptied 30 gal. bourbon barrel, Likely much of that will be put into gallon containers until I know which sizes need re plenishing. The sales for those seem to vary. I sell more 100ml for Christmas gifting and more of the 375ml the rest of the year.

Also, I just ordered a new evaporator which will be online for the 2025 season. In the last 21 years I have burned wood to boil the sap into maple syrup, this new evaporator will be oil fired. This makes a few things easier as I get older. Of course, no wood sawing and splitting (into wrist size pieces) and secondly the fire will be 100% steady, firing exactly the same through the entire boil. With wood fired I had to add an arm load of wood every 7 minutes for years, then I added high pressure air over fire, that then burned more of the wood gases under the pans rather than at the top of the stack (chimney) thus changing my wood firing time from 7 minutes to every 9 minutes, still adding an arm load of wood each time, efficiency was up. With oil it will get even better. One other factor, when I burn wood, I need to stop adding wood when I get down to 20 gal of sap remaining in the tank, giving the fire time to burn down as the sap was gone. With oil fired it stays at full fire until the sap is gone and then I’ll turn the switch off. At that point I’ll only need to cover the syrup pan, cover the 3 float boxes and drain the water heater and go home. With wood the shut down took an hour to an hour and a half, before I could leave. I hope this oil doesn’t spoil me.

I also ordered a new hood, a new head tank and a new draw off tank, the old ones were all sold with my wood fired evaporator. It is said that oil will boil about 5-8 gph more than wood too, just a side benefit. For three of my last 4 evaporators I made my own hoods, finally on my last evaporator I bought a factory made hood. I was planning to make one for that evaporator, but when I picked up the evaporator at the factory they asked if I had made the hood yet. It turned out they had a demo unit the right size for my evaporator that had gotten a minor dent. They took $1195 off the their original quote of $1995.00, I got it for $800.00, I could barely see the dent that saved me almost $1200 dollars, but I took advantage of it, in fact I couldn’t find the dent about a year later as I was telling a visitor at the sugarhouse, and not because I had dented it more, just because it was so minor. I had not put any dents in it,

I’m really looking forward to next season already. I’ll be just like a kid in a candy store. Now I’ll need to buy some oil, rather than spend a few weeks cutting wood and splitting it to wrist size for a real hot fire. I’ll even consider getting 2 oil tanks rather than just one, or getting a larger tank.

Posted on Leave a comment

some new stock has been added

I’ll add more as I pack more product, but I added a few of each that got packed today, in a few days I’ll add more, in the meantime I’m adding some to my stock at The Eclectic Chic, my local outlet. Once I finish the barrel of Amber I’ll then have just 1 more barrel of amber likely until next season. We are in far too warm weather and that’s not good for making amber syrup, it gets the sap too warm and then it produces dark or even very dark syrup. Luckily dark is still my best selling grade, but it seems Amber is gaining on it locally.

Posted on Leave a comment

We got hit hard

My previous post said I’d be packing more syrup today, that won’t happen. We got hit with 17″ of snow from mid evening on Feb 28th thru early morning on the 29th, then in the evening of the 29th into the morning of March 1st we got a few inches more. Today, March 1st as I type this the temperature is up to 39F and it’s forecast to go up to 45 mid afternoon. Then the forecast is for mild temperatures for the next few days, including mild over nights. Our snow will be either settled enough or be mostly gone by Sunday or Monday. I’ll pack then. My partner who makes the syrup is boiling now and will as long as the sap continues to flow.

Once I can again bottle, likely Sunday or Monday, I will resume and get that finished for now. I will need to pack again in about 8-12 weeks depending on sales most likely. Locals who shop The Eclectic Chic will see more stock about Tuesday or Wednesday March 5th or 6th and online shoppers will see new inventories on March 4th or 5th., most likely

Posted on Leave a comment

I packed some today

After lots of interruptions I packed some half gal jugs of Amber today, more in a day or 2. Today I only packed 4 half gal for online sales and 6 for the Eclectic Chic sales, will do more in a day or 2. The other sizes can be put in either, but half gallons actually get 2 different jugs, one is shorter and squatty, the other slightly taller and a little slimmer. The reason I use different jugs in because when I ship 2 HG by USPS I can fit 2 of the shorter jug in a medium flat rate box, but that jug costs me $.65 more than the taller version. They do happen to be different brands and I like the taller jug brand better, except I can’t fit 2 in that box. Thus local sales get the taller brand and the shipped one get the shorter one if ordered in twos. For the taller brand I’d need to use a large flat rate box at over $6.00 extra which the customer would need to pay, thus I stock the 2 different brands in that size only. All other sizes are rarely shipped so I use the brand I like better (and at a slightly lower cost).

The temperature might be too extreme tomorrow, with high winds, if so, it’s forecast to be much better on Friday and I can bottle the rest then.

Posted on Leave a comment

Partially done

Today I got part way done. I got the finisher and the draw off tank cleaned as well as the hoses going from the draw off to the filter press. I then pumped the barrel of Amber into the finisher. Tomorrow I still need to clean the bottler and change the filter papers in the filter press. Then I’ll heat the syrup to 170-180 F draw it out of the finisher and send it through the filter press and into the bottler. Then turn up the heat on the bottler to 186+/- 2 degrees F, once the syrup gets up to temperature I’ll test it for density, correct as needed, draw a sample for grading, label it and finally I’ll begin filling jugs of Amber syrup. By grading it I test the % of light that passes through the test sample, the % of light transmission is what is used to know the grade, in this case it will be Amber, I however keep a sample marked with the % of light transmission and keep the sample for years, until I’m fairly certain that all of this batch of syrup has all been used up, generally 10-12 years. Yes, it will all be sold in a few months, but then a customer may have some of this batch for many years. As a rule I tend to store the test samples at least 12 years, some end up being held as long as 15 years, because they get saved in a special box that holds 50 samples and the whole box is kept until the youngest one is at least 12 yrs old.

Once packaged the jugs are labeled with the sugarhouse name (I’m still using “Dave&Joanssugarhouse ” labels until I order a batch of CNYMaple labels, which will likely be later this year.) I then put grade stickers and price taks on the containers, let them cool and finally take some to stock my display at the Eclectic Chic, the retail store I use, I take others home to put in storage for shipping web orders and any left get placed on my storage shelves at the sugarhouse until needed. Once I get my stock at home placed, I enter the counts on the store inventory, ready for customers to order.

When I do my bourbon barrel aged syrup I put CNY Maple labels on them, as I’ve ordered all 3 size bottles labels and the way they sell I’ll need more of those about the time I need to order the regular syrup labels. When I do order more I study the old labels and decide if I want to make any changes. I know, for one thing on the regular syrup I’ll be changing the color of the serial numbers. Like few if any of you realize but each label is serialized, in case a container ever needs to be traced back to the samples I’ve kept, the production date, barrel it came out of, grade and any other info that might be needed. Thus far I’ve never needed to trace any, but if I do, I can.