We started cooking with the evaporator on March 30, the last open house. We knew that 120 gallons of sap was not enough to start making syrup in the continuous feed evaporator. We cooked down the sap till the tank was empty, and the pans were filled with more concentrated sap. Now we had to wait for more sap to fill the overhead tank.
The overhead tank automatically feeds the evaporator. Sap enters the evaporator in the sap-pan on one side and exits the evaporator as syrup on the other side. Inside the evaporator the sap gets cooked, steam leaves through the roof and more concentrated sap stays in the pan. We need a continuous supply of sap to keep the evaporator running.
One week later, Saturday April 6, we pumped all the sap from the tanks and emptied all the buckets and bags. We collected 180 gallons of sap, enough to fill up the overhead tank and start cooking again. The pans are still full with concentrated sap from the last time we were cooking.
We have enough sap to feed the evaporator and cook till we have syrup. The first syrup comes out as a nice grade A, medium amber. At this point it gets treated as liquid gold. After all the sap is cooked, we have 6 gallons of sweet syrup and an evaporator full of concentrated sap. We shut down for the day and have to wait for more sap.
Last week started out warm and rainy. By Wednesday, it turned colder and snowy. Rain, snow and cold, not the forecast most people are excited for. I must admit, I was a little excited. I still wasn’t entirely sure what the reason for the slow season could be. Was it the drought, the frost, or me forgetting how to tap a tree? I was hoping the warm days would thaw the soil, the moisture would energize the trees, and the cold nights would help the trees build up pressure.
Thursday and Friday, we had moderate sap flow. It filled up the bags and sap-tanks. Saturday morning, April 13, we collected all the sap and brought it to the Sugar House. 300 gallons of sap, enough to cook all day. We cooked all day and made another 14 gallons of pure Maple Syrup. The best part of Saturday was, at the end of the day, all the bags, buckets and sap-tanks were full of sap again.
Saturday had been a great day, the first good day of the season. We cooked 12 gallons of syrup on Monday, we’re up to 32 gallons now. Still not a record breaker but the rest of the week looks promising. I learned my lesson trying to make predictions. We will have to wait till the end of the season to see how much syrup we will end up making.
Feel free to stop by when you see the steam rising from the Sugar House.