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Kicking Off the 2019 Maple Syrup Season

 
pioneer
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Official MGP VLOG of 2019... and onward!

In these videos, I will discuss the recent happenings at Maple Grove Farm and bring all the viewers up to date. This year we will take a close look at the art of making maple syrup the old fashioned way. No tubes. No fancy machines. Just tin buckets, tapping spouts, a good old, sturdy wood stove and a lot of elbow grease... oh, and a sugar shack! Can't forget that.

Later in the spring, we will be reunited with all our old friends from last year, including our new hugel mounds, fruit and nuts trees, berry patch and raised garden beds. Some new characters will also  be making an appearance, namely a few laying hens (maybe!) and most definitely a passive solar green house. All good things to come so stay tuned for that!

Please note that these videos will be fairly "raw" and have minimal editing. The idea is to produce many informative videos quickly while keeping the production time as low as possible - to then have more time to make videos.

Your feedback and support are very much appreciated! Please like, comment, subscribe and hit the notification bell so you don't miss any of our new videos. If all goes well, by VLOG #100, we will have a nice stockpile of useful information to draw from and add to the YouTube permaculture/homesteading compendium.

Dream big and dream often, my friends! Cheers! :)

 
pollinator
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Great helpers!  May your taps flow freely!
 
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I've heard you can set the sap out in the cold and pick the ice off as it forms to condense it, instead of boiling. Any idea if this is true?
 
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Yes and no.  That will freeze some water out but it's hard to get the sap very sweet that way.  You're trying to remove 97% of the volume in the form of water/ice and leave the little bit of sugar in the mixture.  If you let the bucket half freeze, you can pull out a big chunk of ice, but it's porous wet ice.  So you have to let it drain back into the bucket until it's quite dry.  Otherwise you're discarding some sugar along with the ice.

I'm guessing if you did this over the course of every night of the syrup season, you could freeze out 75% of the liquid.  But I'd guess that you'd lose 1/3 of the overall sugar in the process.  So instead of 40 ounces of sap boiling down into one ounce of syrup, I think you'd take 40 ounces of sap down to 10 ounces of thicker sap and then boil it down to 2/3rds of an ounce of syrup.   Those are just made up numbers by me based on intuition from a few years of syruping.

Another thing to remember is that during the later half of the season the nights are just barely freezing and a gallon of sap may just get a skim of ice on top.
 
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Ah, that makes sense.
 
Matt Leger
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L. Tims wrote:I've heard you can set the sap out in the cold and pick the ice off as it forms to condense it, instead of boiling. Any idea if this is true?



I've done this in previous years and it does work fairly well. However, this year I was toying with the idea of boiling the frozen sap just to see how much sugar is actually locked in the ice and I was surprised to find that the water content was much lower than I suspected! Or maybe the sugar content is high this year? Either way, 3 buckets of ice + 3 buckets of sap turned into 8 cups of syrup! More experimentation needs to be done on this but it would seem that even sap with high sugar content can freeze and is worth saving in the end. I'm definitely not pitching my ice anymore.
 
Mike Jay
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I know people with sap hydrometers have done tests where they pull ice out of the buckets on the trees and let it melt and test it.  It usually isn't plain water, there's often some sugar in it.  I think many of them do dump their ice if they have too much to boil already.  If they have time on their hands, they boil it.  Some of the calculation relates to how easy it is to move, pour and transfer ice along with sap through your sap handling process.

For instance, if you're collecting in 5 gallon buckets and pouring into a big pan, no problem.  If you're collecting sap into a tank behind a 4 wheeler and then you pump the sap up into an IBC tote to feed your evaporator, ice is a problem.
 
Matt Leger
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Very true, Mike. That's exactly why I didn't keep the ice last year. We had so much sap coming in that I didn't see the point. I suppose how you deal with the ice comes down to how much time, patience and total sap available. And of course, your capacity to process it efficiently, plus your setup (tubes vs. buckets).

This year, on my last 2 batches, I've melted the sap in a separate pan, filtered it, rinsed the pan and then threw it back on to boil. So far it's been working out quite well! I definitely seem to be making a little more syrup per session now. Hard to say how much exactly but at least a good cup or two per batch. So for me and my particular setup, the ice has been worth saving.
 
Matt Leger
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September-October Homestead Skills Jamboree 2019
https://permies.com/wiki/118704/permaculture-projects/September-October-Homestead-Skills-Jamboree
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