maple syrup ??

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  #1  
Old 01-18-17, 04:53 AM
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maple syrup ??

just curious how many on this site make their own syrup. anyone getting ready to tap their trees. I'm just a backyard tapper maybe will do 15-20 this year.hopefully in a couple weeks I will start. is anyone tapped yet. jim
 
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  #2  
Old 01-18-17, 06:01 AM
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I don't get involved much; but there is a 1200 Acre Sugar Bush across the road from me where they're starting to clear the roads, check the gravity feed lines and fuel up the Vacuum Pumps.

It's just a seemingly vacant parcel, and they truck out the sap (2000 gallons at a time) to another location a few miles away where they have a Reverse Osmosis unit that eliminates 50% of the water before they begin boiling it down (40/1) to the net 12,000-15,000 gallons of actual Syrup that gets shipped.

It's a year round activity with road construction and maintenance, line clearing and care of all the equipment . . . . well beyond the "Labor of Love" that draws most hobbyist Sugar Makers.

As a Real Estate Broker, I've sold plenty of raw land and standing Maple Groves and producing Bushes; but never paid quite the attention to it , or appreciated the amount of work involved, as I have since they began drawing from this Bush across the road from me.

Around here, the sap won't begin flowing, and they won't actually begin running the Diesel driven Vacuum Pumps and trucking it out until February (unless it really warms up prematurely).

Me . . . . I secretly use something phoney like Log Cabin or Aunt Jemima !
 
  #3  
Old 01-18-17, 06:29 AM
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Tapped my pine trees, but all I got was turpentine.
 
  #4  
Old 01-18-17, 11:05 AM
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turpentine isn't to bad just add some sugar, yes the big operations are a lot of labor, time,and nothing is ever guaranteed.i just do it as a hobby,nothing better to do this time of year, being from Vermont i'm surprised you use log cabin or store bought stuff, though Vermont was the maple capitol..I might end up with 2 gallon of syrup at the end, along with some maple candy, just that amount takes some time to boil down over wood fire.
 
  #5  
Old 01-18-17, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jimbnc
". . . being from Vermont, I'm surprised that you use Log Cabin or the store bought stuff . . ."
You caught me; even though I've been here for decades, I'm really a FlatLander from Wisconsin (via a few other places), so I can never, ever be a true Vermonter.

And while I might admit to using Aunt Jemima on this Forum, I wouldn't publicly do it here. I am often gifted with Vermont Syrup by Clients and Customers; but it must be "an acquired taste" because frankly I can't taste all that much of a difference.

I reckon I'm guilty as charged; but I don't broadcast it !
 
  #6  
Old 01-18-17, 01:12 PM
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I grew up on a Vermont dairy farm that had a small sugarbush. We never tapped before February. My grandfather kept detailed records along with the Farmer's Almanac to try to get the taps in just ahead of the February thaw and we would sugar through March. We hung buckets and used horses to collect the sap. We made just enough for the family and on a good year sold some as a cash crop.

Re maple syrup - I was watching Cook's Country on PBS last week and they had a blind tasting of pancake syrup. The host of the show was the taster and as he tasted on product his reaction was "blech! That is not maple syrup. That stuff is awful!" It was Mrs. Butterworth's, the same sort of corn syrup concoction as Aunt Jemima.

Real maple syrup is a very distinct tasting product. It's gotten very expensive but it's all I'll have on my pancakes and waffles. I buy it by the half gallon for about $35.
 
  #7  
Old 01-18-17, 05:45 PM
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I have never been a fan of real maple syrup. I find it to be too bland and runny. I buy the Hungary Jack light syrup (less sugar) and will never go back.

Tapping trees have always interested me but I have never done it. As others have mentioned, normally doesn't start untill the end of Feb or March.
 
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Old 01-19-17, 04:23 AM
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We do not have the Sugar Maple here but on our lot have around twenty Box Elder which locally is known as the Manitoba Maple.
The sugar content is lower and the taste is slightly different than the Sugar Maple.
We are planning to try tapping these trees in the spring and see what it's all about.

There are several other species of tree that can be tapped and locally we have a small producer tapping Paper Birch trees with some success.
 
  #9  
Old 01-19-17, 06:52 AM
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We have some folks who've been producing Birch Beer for decades; but the Birch Syrup is pretty new around here, and the price they've put on it seems prohibitive to any taste testing . . . . like $18.99 for 4 Oz !

I don't dislike traditional Maple Syrup, I'm just not enough of a connoisseur to justify the additional expense for someone who can;t appreciate it. When gifted a bottle or a tin of Vermont Maple, I will re-gift it only if I already know the quality and taste. I'll make myself the guinea pig when the producer is new or new to me.

Some Sugar Makers will occasionally boil off a bad batch; but others will consistently produce Syrup that's somewhat bitter. All trees that are referred to as Maple are not necessarily good candidates for making sugar; so you can't just tap everything at's available without taking a risk that it might compromise your whole product.

As a Broker, one thing I've learned is that the process of tapping trees can scar the wood so that it is less valuable as timber (certainly for furniture). Now, this may just be the opinion of prospective Buyers, who, as loggers, are just using that as a bargaining ploy to justify a low bid; but I've heard it so often that it probably bears some truth. This is especially true when you consider that a fresh tap should be bored each year, and there is scar tissue created in the wood every where it was tapped in prior years, and that will represent multiple taps per year.
 
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Old 01-19-17, 11:39 AM
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The best trees for syrup are sugar maples. Maple syrup has a very unique and pronounced flavor. Maple syrup is similar to beer in that quality and taste can range from bland (think Bud Light) to intense (think Guinness). For me Grade A Dark Amber is the best taste.

We all have different taste buds. I can't stomach the stuff sold as pancake syrup and commonly found in pancake houses but my kids and grand kids eat that corn syrup stuff.

Want a real treat? Try Maple Bacon Crack or Candied Maple Bacon (AKA "Pig Candy in the south"). Serve Pig Candy as an hors d'ouvre at a party and everyone will want the recipe.
 
  #11  
Old 01-21-17, 11:32 AM
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last year was the first I tapped some trees, I thought there was quite a difference in taste from log cabin... etc.which I grew up on. i would say if maple syrup was to bland and runny it probably wasn't boiled down long enough, last I boiled it to 219 degrees and thought it came out awesome.hey Vermont sorry to call you out I didn't mean to, I bet you know your cheeses though. have read about tapping the birch tree and might give that a shot this year also, I think that seaon usually starts after the maple and is a quite a bit shorter run.
 
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Old 01-21-17, 12:27 PM
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jimbmc or anyone else doing this small scale;

How are you tapping your trees?

This is totally new to me and I see that there are a few different ways to do it.
So far my plan is to use 5/16 spiles and a coupe of feet of tubing into a bucket sitting on the ground.
Where I have a few trees within a few feet of each other I was going to tee a couple of lines together into a single bucket.

Will this work?


 
  #13  
Old 01-21-17, 01:07 PM
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I don't know about Pennsylvania or Connecticut or the Provinces of Canada . . . . but I do know that around here, one of the chronic problems for Sugar Makers who are lucky enough to be able to use gravity feed to collect their sap is SQUIRRELS, who have taken a liking to gnawing on the vinyl pipeline.

Second is MOOSE and DEER who carelessly wander through the woods, disrupting pipelines with total abandonment. They're so careless !

Between the two, pipelines need to be patrolled at least twice a week, and repairs made immediately when the sap is running . . . . just another factor that adds to the price of Real Maple for those Consumers who cherish the product.
 
  #14  
Old 01-21-17, 03:13 PM
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I've never done the tubing thing. We just tapped, using a brace and bit (no battery operated drill driver back then), and hung the bucket on the spile. I think that's all you need for a small operation. Buckets were covered to keep out most of the crap and we would run the sap through a milk can filter before boiling.

I agree with jimbnc, if your syrup is thin and runny and doesn't have that distinct taste, it wasn't boiled down enough. I think the sap to syrup ratio was that it took 40-50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
 
  #15  
Old 01-22-17, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by cwbuff
". . . if your syrup is thin and runny and doesn't have that distinct taste, it wasn't boiled down enough . . ."
Aiming for the 219F is good; but there's still the variability of temperature within the evaporator pan.

Using a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity would be more precise in reaching the 67% sugar content . . . . no thicker and certainly, no thinner.
 
  #16  
Old 01-22-17, 12:13 PM
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all I use are the spiles and tubing with buckets, I get my buckets from a bakery with lids that snap on tight, drill a hole just big enough to stick the tube in on the side near the top of bucket. keeps out animals and dirt except for bears they will get in if they want to,
 
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