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I packed my last remaining barrel of Dark syrup

Today I opened my last barrel of Dark Color, Robust Taste syrup, and packed some into jugs. I’ll finish the rest this week. For years Dark has been my fastest seller by far. Right now I had more orders (to ship as we get closer to Christmas) than what I had already packed, thus it was time to open the last barrel. I have 4 sizes of SS barrels, but will soon be down to 2. I have 16 gal, 26.5 gal, 30 gal and 40 gallon SS barrels. I find it much easier to process the 2 smaller sizes, thus I’m selling the 2 -30’s I have and the 1 -40. Then I’m down to 4 -16’s and 10 at 26.5. Soon I’ll buy more 26.5’s. I’m thinking about 18-20 of the 26.5’s will be enough if the season is good, if the season is short I may already have more than I need. Hope to be at 850-900 taps for the 2018 season.

I just took delivery last week on a 14 x 28 shed and I have grand plans for it, the best being an addition on one side that will be a walk in cooler to store my barrels of syrup until they need to be packed in retail sizes.

As I make syrup I only pack enough in retail sizes to fill my shelves and my 2 coolers (chest freezers held at 30-35 degrees F) then the rest is put into SS barrels until needed. My coolers in the sugarhouse can hold enough to meet sales demand for about 6-8 weeks, then I need to pack more.

Looks like we’ll be getting our first snow of the season tonight and tomorrow. So far we’ve only had a 1″ snowfall and a few dustings. If the forecast is right, it will start in the middle of the night and snow until about noon tomorrow then taper off and quit about 2-3 pm. Time will tell, forecasts are generally off, some a little, others a lot.

However, after getting my maple truck stuck in the mud a few days ago, I ordered new snow tires, they are supposed to be in tomorrow morning. Just in time to test them with snow. Then Tuesday, I’ve got to go haul a 850 gal SS tank out of an old lease. I sold that lease and the new owner is putting a larger tank there and adding more taps.

On my one remaining lease we are also adding more taps for next season. That will be about 50-75 more taps at that lease and about 50-75 more at the woods surrounding the sugarhouse.

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What we are doing between seasons

After a few years making maple syrup for home use, then 15 season making syrup as a business, we have moved into the modern arena. Yesterday we opened our last barrel of bourbon barrel aged syrup from the 2017 crop, then heated and filtered it. Tomorrow we bottle it so hopefully we won’t run out before a new batch from the 2018 season is ready. To make our bourbon barrel aged maple syrup, we buy a recently emptied oak bourbon barrel. We then drain any remaining bourbon if there is any, and then we heat a batch of our syrup to about 190F and fill the oak barrel, then seat the bung. Next we spray the barrel’s exterior with water twice every day for 2 weeks, turning the barrel each time. After 2 weeks, we go to once a day for another 2 weeks. After that we do it every 2 days until we open the barrel. The syrup slowly takes up much of the bourbon flavor with little or almost no alcohol. The time needed depends on the barrel size. To date we’ve only used 5 gal and 10 gal bourbon barrels, a 5 gal takes about 3-3 1/2 months to be ready, a 10 gal takes about twice that. The larger the barrel, the longer it takes.
The bourbon barrel aged maple has proven to be our best seller.

Next we have just 1 barrel of syrup from the 2017 season, that will be packed in retail containers to hopefully last us until we start boiling in the 2018 season.

We are now checking lines and repairing as needed, we’ve had lots of high wind events since the end of 2017 production.

We plan to start tapping about Jan. 8-10, weather permitting and hope to be completely ready by late Jan.

Check back for updates, and have a great Thanksgiving.