Showing posts from March, 2019

2019 Maple Syrup Season Recap

The 2019 maple syrup season is officially over in the greater Pittsburgh area.  Overall it was a great year.  We enjoyed our new homemade evaporator and our new homemade RO .   In 2019 we had 36 taps and produced a little over 6.25 gallons of syrup.  The majority of the syrup was golden, with a very small amount of amber (a couple of quarts) and only two small batches of dark (less than 24 ounces) at the very end.  Overall this is very good considering most of our trees are red maples and we had a pretty consistent 64:1 ratio for sap to syrup (collected just over 400 gallons of sap on the season). Now its time for maple festivals! This year we will be entering syrup for all three grade A classifications, golden delicate, amber rich, dark robust.   Sugar Tree Run - Golden, Amber, Dark Check back after April 26th to see how our syrup did! Be sure to check out your local maple festivals.  Here are some links to a couple of great ones! The Geauga County Maple Festival in Cha

End of Season Equipment Cleaning

When then maple sugaring season has come to a close, there is a lot of cleanup and storage that needs to be done so that everything is well maintained and kept in order for the next season.  In this post we will discuss tips for cleaning the following maple equipment: Evaporator pan Reverse Osmosis (RO) cleaning and storage Buckets & lids (collection and gathering) Spiles Collection / gathering tanks   The required items and process steps are outlined below and are accompanied by instructional videos.  Evaporator Pan Things you will need: White vinegar Water (preferably permeate or distilled) Non-abrasive cleaning cloth or large scrub brush Baking soda Garden hose or pressure washer (optional) Detergent free SOS/scouring pad (optional) Process: First, make sure your pan has been drained of all sap and syrup.   Premix a 50/50 blend of white vinegar and hot permeate (if you used an RO system during the year), distilled water, or tap water (as last choic

Indicators Maple Syrup Season is Over

How do you know when maple syrup season is over?  There are a few typical things that bring the season to a close: Weather - it just gets too warm and there are no more freeze/thaw cycles that cause the sap to run. Also, extended warm weather periods increases bacteria in the tap hole and can significantly lessen or stop sap flow.   Trees - sometimes they just shut down and stop running even if you are still getting some decent freeze/thaw patterns.  This is pretty typical behavior for red maples Budding - the trees are beginning to bud and will soon be dawning their leaves for the year.  As the buds break and photosynthesis begins, this causes changes to the sap, negatively impacting the flavor of the syrup.  This is frequently called "buddy", a type of "off" flavor.   Examples of red maple early stage budding Below is a video covering the basics of knowing when your season is wrapping up and shows examples of red maple and sugar maple buds late in t

How to Make a Maple Stir from Pure Maple Syrup

Nothing is sweeter than a delicious maple stir. Today we are going to show you how to make one from pure maple syrup.  Things you will need: Pure maple syrup (8 oz. makes about 4 stirs) Stainless steel pot Candy thermometer (goes to minimum of 240°F) Bowls and spoons Process Heat the pure maple syrup in the pot to 235°F.  Be very careful to prevent the syrup from foaming up and boiling over and out of the pot.  Adjust the heat as necessary to prevent this, yet still raising the temperature of the syrup.   Promptly remove the syrup from the heat at 235°F, allowing it to cool in the pot to 175°F.  This will take approximately 10 minutes. Pour approximately 1.5 - 2 oz of syrup into each bowl and begin stirring quickly.  Syrup will start to thicken and lighten in color as it sets up into a creamy treat. Enjoy! 

Custom Hobby Maple Syrup Evaporator

In 2022 I rebuilt this evaporator to accomodate a set of Smoky Lake Dauntless drop flue pans. I added burners, stainless sidewalls, and lengthened the arch. In 2019, I designed and built a custom hobby maple syrup evaporator to improve efficiency and increase the volume of syrup we could produce.   In this post I will outline some of the design and build process.   Custom Hobby Evaporator Specs and Features Number of taps: 10 - 50 Max main pan volume: 27 gallons (29.5" long x 21.5" wide x 10" deep) Recommended batch size: 5 gallons (sap or concentrate) Evaporation rate : 4 gallons/hour for 5 gallon batch Fuel type:  Natural Gas (can be converted to propane with different orifice) Thermal output: 210,000 - 270,000 BTUs Burners: three (3) stainless steel U-burners Piezoelectric ignition Independent burner valves and air/gas mixing chambers Lid : stainless steel tiltable with steam catch channel Draw-off:  gate valve over a mountable 6" deep full

Maple Syrup and Natural Gas - Murrysville PA History

Murrysville, PA is home to the nation's first commercial natural gas well, which remained the largest gas well in the world for many years. However, the origin of how this gas well, and the entire natural gas industry came to be is especially interesting, particularly to anyone who lives in Murrysville or enjoys maple syrup.   The Haymaker brothers (Michael and Obediah) grew up in the Murrysville, PA area, and were working in the oil industry in Clarion County, PA in 1876.  Convinced there was oil in Murrysville in 1877 they leased farm land from Henry Remaley and constructed a wooden derrick and began drilling.  Overcoming many hardships and financial issues, the brothers finally broke through on November 3, 1878.  In the words of Michael Haymaker in a 1936 interview,  "I'll never forget the day the well came in.  We were down 1400 feet.  Without the slightest warning, there was a terrific roar and rumble that was heard fifteen miles away. Every piece of rigging