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Read about the latest maple syrup happenings in Mount Kisco, New York.

Second Boil of 2019

February 24, 2019

A good week of sap harvesting, along with good weather and an open schedule, allowed for another boil on Saturday, February 23, 2019. The Reverse Osmosis (RO) system processed the sap on Friday, which removed half of the water prior to boiling. I am really appreciating the time and effort saved in using this system. Thanks science!

Saturday was sunny and comfortable to stand out by the fire. My neighbor Mike was the first to come by and brought some much-appreciated breakfast. Mike has been helping out for years and really seems to enjoy the process. He jumps right in and works the pans like a pro which is great so that I don't need to act like a frantic octopus. Mindy and Eric came back to the neighborhood to visit and brought more treats. The boys also put in some quality time at the pans and are hopefully in training to take over for me some day. Maybe I will be able to simply direct them from a comfortable chair.

Mike, Jonathan, Greg, Eric, and Scott

Happy hour starts early on a boiling day, so we tapped a mini-keg, and explained the maple process to first-timer, Jon who came by just in time to enjoy a lunch catered by Dannielle. We finished up outside at around 4 PM, which achieved my goal of not having to boil in the dark.

Jon and Greg

As has been my new modus operandi, I left the bottling until the next day, which reduces the pressure, time commitment, and potential for mistakes. I bottled nearly two gallons of syrup. Yummy and sweet, and just a bit darker than the first batch as is expected.

The sap is still flowing and there is at least another boil in me for the season. I really want to capitalize on the improved process and hoping for a banner year.


First Boil of 2019

February 9, 2019

The reverse osmosis system worked as expected, and Friday morning, I had around 25 gallons of sap with a sugar content of nearly 4%. Unfortunately, it was also a rainy morning, but a freeze was expected for Saturday and Sunday, so I decided to boil what I had on my own.

The rain cleared up, the sun came out, and the boil went well, and by 1 PM, I had reduced everything down to a little more than 1 gallon, my target goal. I cleaned up the outside operation and left bottling for Saturday.

The result was light in a color and delicious.

Now back to watching the weather and waiting for the sap to start flowing again.

Reverse Osmosis

February 7, 2019

Maple sap is basically water. The clear liquid drips out of the tree drop-by-drop and has only a tiny bit of sugar in it. It can be measured with a refractometer and the sugar content is generally only about 2%. It gets to be syrup by removing most of the water, traditionally by boiling (see How Syrup is Made). The ratio is generally 40 to 1. Boil away 39 gallons of water to get 1 gallon of syrup. That's a lot of boiling, wood, steam, and time. 

Reverse osmosis is another method of removing water. Typically used for filtering out contaminants to get pure water, reverse osmosis can separate the maple sap into pure water and (more concentrated) sap. Using this method, sap with 2% sugar can be easily concentrated to 4% sugar in one pass through the dual-outlet filters. Since that is twice as much sugar to start with, boil time could be cut in half. The percentage of sugar in syrup is around 66%, so that is still a lot of boiling, which also helps carmelize the sugars and flavor the syrup.

As I write this, I am filtering 60 gallons of sap and should wake up to 30 gallons of more concentrated sap, and 30 gallons of pure water, and will able to produce 1.5 gallons of syrup in half the time I used to. Boiling is always the most time-consuming and labor-intensive part of the process. It still will be, but now greatly reduced.

Stay tuned!

Tree Tapping 2019

February 3, 2019

In keeping up with the traditional pre-Super Bowl tree tapping, 20 taps are now in! I am ramping up this year to make up for a less-than-average 2018. The boys have the flu, so I didn't have any extra hands to assist, so I loaded up my Mobile Tapping Station (MTS) and got to it.

Mobile Tapping System
Mobile Tapping System

Coco was by my side as usual, but her lack of opposing thumbs and attention to detail only provided moral support.

I have some exciting improvements to the process this year (TBA), which will allow me to make more syrup in less time, but first things first.

Here's hoping the boys recover quickly, and the sap flows freely. Stay tuned!

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