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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sugar Bush 2010

Im posting this late as things have been real busy...but better late than never.

We live on a small woodlot with a good portion of maple, we have wanted to tap the trees for several years and got around to trying it out in 2009. The first year we experimented with an open fire and large stock pots. It worked and we made sugar and syrup, but I had to feed the open fire for 3 windy days and because of the constant wind and smoke it felt like I started smoking about 2 packs a cigarettes a day! not fun.

So 2010 we found a shallow stainless pan to fit on top of my two dog stove and set it up inside a tepee.

The shallow stainless pan has more surface area than a pot and boils off faster.

We used plastic spiles and tubing with 5 gallon buckets for collection. We only tapped about 6 trees with 2 spiles a piece. This gave us more than enough sap to make what we could process with this mini system.

This system was very comfortable on cold windy days.This is a very small stove and the pan would hold 2-3 gallons of sap at a time. The size of this is just big enough to play around with but not good for high production.

Improvised saw horse,axe, and bucksaw fed the stove.

I built a 24" bucksaw out of green saplings and wanted to see how well it would hold up with no nails in the construction...just notches...anyways after a little fitting it worked great and cut lots of wood for the little stove.

I would boil the sap until it started turning dark and getting sweet and then moved it inside on the stove to finish it. Everything I have read on making syrup says it needs to reach 219 deg. to be done which is 7 deg. above boiling. Well in my area I had it boiling at 210 and thought my thermometer must be bad. Then I realized we are at 1100ft. elevation and water boils 1 deg. less for every 550ft in elevation. So finished syrup is done at 217deg.

This was a fun experiment with the kids and a good learning experiance. In the future I will be keeping my eye out for a larger set up to process more sap and maybe someday meet my families sugar needs with this cool resource.

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