Time For An Update – Can You Spot The Theme?🍁
It’s late fall by the calendar, well past summer by the temperatures, and the beautiful foliage in now on the ground. So, what’s “sappening” at Mapletree Farm in late Fall? Plenty, since the leaves have dropped and we can now see longer distances in our woods. We are working on splitting and piling the wood necessary to fuel the evaporator for the 2022 production season. The wood shed is nearly full and then we will store a reserve supply. How much wood is required? Last year, due to low-sugar-content sap, we burned 5 cords of dry hardwood. A cord is wood piled four feet high, four feet wide, and eight feet long. For reference: five cords piled end-to-end would be as long as the sugarhouse (40 feet).
During the summer and early fall foliage season we had hundreds of sugarhouse visitors. The overwhelming comments were: “we had no idea that making maple syrup took so much time”. I was pleased that after taking the tour and learning about sugaring, their eyes were opened. Many asked if I do this all the time? Yes, it is my full-time work in retirement. Soon my part-time helper and I will be back in the woods clearing lines from blown down limbs, repairing lines as necessary (from animals, storm damage, etc.) and making sure the lines will be ready for the next sap flow. There are 9.5 miles of lines to check; that takes time!
Our Bourbon Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup continues to be popular. Time is key in its production since it takes months (at least six months) to age in an authentic oak bourbon barrel that we get from Wiggly Bridge Distillery in York, Maine. Once you have tried our bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup compared to those made by faster processes, you will find ours much more flavorful. Aging takes time.
Visitors want to know what my day is like during the production season. There really is no typical day since so much depends on weather and the resulting sap flow. Sap runs best from late February though early April. This past season we first boiled on March 9th and last boiled on March 31st. During that time, we processed over 20,000 gallons of sap and made 301 gallons of maple syrup. On an average day I will start concentrating sap from the sugarbush behind the sugarhouse before I head out to gather the roadside tanks with my truck. The majority of our sap is collected in roadside tanks along Oak Hill Rd. Collection takes around four hours. The Reverse Osmosis machine will be running and concentrating sap while I collect. The RO will reduce the water content and concentrate the sugar in the sap. Boiling concentrated sap saves time. When all of the sap tanks have been collected, I’ll start the evaporation process of making maple syrup. The evaporator, being wood-fired, takes all of my time and focus to operate. The syrup made is filtered and stored in stainless steel drums for later packaging. There is no time to fill syrup jugs while running the evaporator. The tanks, the evaporator, and the RO are cleaned after every use.
Once the maple syrup production is over, we approach the less glamorous aspects of sugaring. Gone are the delights of seeing sap flow, of watching steam billow, and the enjoyment of those wonderful smells. It’s hard to beat those tastes of fresh syrup right from the evaporator. But as time repeats itself, I know that lines and equipment must be cleaned, and soon, to avoid mold and bacteria buildup. Good tasting maple syrup requires attention to proper cleaning.
Time for a break at the end of the season after everything is cleaned and properly stored? Nope. Once that is done, during the next nine or so months (until it’s time to get ready for sugaring again), I am busy packaging syrup stored in the big stainless steel drums into the smaller containers you find in our store or online, making our goodies like maple cream and maple coated nuts, and making bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup. All these products must be carefully packaged and labeled. There are orders to fill and ship. Another thing I spend time on year-round is meeting visitors from all over the country, giving tours and telling them the maple story.
Did you figure out the theme of this update? If you guessed time, you are correct. I often say, “It takes Time to Do Things Right”.
Best to you all,
Dean aka The Old Man of Mapletree Farm
See What’s Sappening by following us on Facebook (mapletreefarmnh) and Instagram (@mapletreefarmnh)
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Our Sugarhouse Hours are: Tues and Sat 9 am-Noon or by appointment.
You can also shop online through this website. A NH zip code will prompt a local pick-up option. If you prefer this to having your product shipped, just check the box and we will happily prepare your order for pick up and reach out to you when it’s ready.
GPS directions for 105 Oak Hill Road are good, but if you have any questions, please call or email.
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