Maple Syrup Production
Only mature maple trees are tapped, meaning the tree must be 30 to 40 years of age and at least 12 inches in diameter. Once at a mature age, the trees may yield sap for 100 years or more.
Plastic spouts/metal spouts if you are using buckets, like the above picture, are put into the previously drilled holes at a slightly upward angle to allow the sap to flow out of the tree and into the pipeline tubing/bucket. The tubing is either pumped or gravity fed to holding tanks or tanker trucks. Here Wayne is gathering a bucket and will dump the sap into the wagon behind him.
From the holding tank and the tanker trucks the sap is pumped to the sugarhouse into separate holding tanks. The sap remains there until it runs into a filter and the reverse osmosis machine. Sap usually begins to spoil or ferment within 24 hours so the sooner it can be processed the better the quality of the maple syrup.
Here you see the vacuum system at the sugarhouse where the sap has passed through to the storage tanks. Maple sap is reminiscent of water with the exception of its slightly sweet taste. It takes 55 gallons of maple sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup.
The reverse osmosis machine separates water from water-soluble solids and can reduce the boiling process in half. From the reverse osmosis machines the sap concentrate goes into the boiler. At this point it only takes approximately eleven gallons of the sap concentrate to create a gallon of maple syrup. Between the reverse osmosis process and the boiling, the sap goes from 2% or 3% sugar to 66% sugar in the final syrup.
6' x 16' oil fueled Leader Evaporator with steam away and steam hood
Once the sap has been boiled down it is sent through a pressure filter to remove the solidified minerals, called sugar sand. The syrup is then packed into 55-gallon drums for storage. When packed into retail containers the syrup is reheated to 190°F.