In late winter or early spring, maple producers from West Virginia to Canada carefully watch the weather forecasts to see when they will begin to tap maple trees. Maple producers look for temperatures to reach the mid 40's during the day and dip below freezing at night. This is the busiest time of the year for the maple syrup producer. The to do list is long and tedious, but its a labor of love. After all the work during the year is done, putting up cord after cord of wood up, washing buckets, hanging tubing and making repairs from fallen branches and trees, etc. All the preparations need to be finished for 4-5 weeks of the maple season.
Once the day comes for tapping, it may take several days or even weeks for some larger producers to tap all of their trees. Tap too early a producer runs the risk of the tap holes drying up and not producing. Tap too late and miss the first big run of sap. When the sap is coming out of the tree it's called a run.
There are several types of trees that maybe tapped for maple syrup and they are Sugar Maples, Red Maples, Silver Maples, Norway Maples, and Box Elders. They all produce the proper sap to make Excellent 100% pure maple syrup. There are other trees that maybe tapped to produce other types of syrup like Birch trees but they need to be handled differently than maple syrup.
The next month or so the sap will be collected via tubing or buckets and in some cases trucking it back to the sugar house where the evaporator will run almost every day. Wood and oil are used at an alarming rate. Some oil evaporators may use as much as 11 gallons of heating oil an hour. Wood evaporators can use as much as 20 or more full cords of wood over the course of a season. Some producers use a reverse osmosis to remove as much as 75% off the water out of the sap before it goes into evaporator. This is a very energy efficient type of technology that can reduce the amount of wood and oil ,time and energy used to produce maple syrup. Your can reduce your wood or oil consumption by 75%. For example going from 10 cords of wood to produce 100 gallons of syrup to 3 cords of wood used for that same 100 gallons of syrup.
It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. The amount of sugar in the raw sap can vary throughout the season and can be as much as 4% if you're lucky and be as low as 1% or less towards the end of the season but generally will be around 2%. Once the sap has boiled down and close to being finished syrup the temperature will be about 219 ºF.
The syrup must then be tested with a Hydrometer to check for sugar density. This density must reach a predetermined density which is 66.9 Brix at 60 ºF and is set by Each state Agriculture department. Temperature alone is not an accurate enough measurement of density as atmospheric air pressure can vary from day to day and hour to hour and be off by as much as 3 to 4 degrees. This could cause the syrup to be too thin and cause bacteria to grow in the syrup. If the syrup is too thick then it will crystalize.
After the syrup is at the proper density it must then be checked and graded accordingly. About 95% of the grade of the syrup is determined by the tree. During different weather patterns Extended warm temperatures or extended cold temperatures during the season as well as the tree's natural progression through the season will change the chemistry of the sap slightly. The main sugars in maple syrup are Fructose and Sucrose. If there is a higher level or lower level of fructose, which has a lower scorching temperature, will be a major factor in determining the grade of the syrup. So the grade is greatly effected by what the tree gives us for sap. There are a few human factors as well that may effect the grade.
Then comes the best and most rewarding test, the taste test. If the syrup has any off flavors it can't be sold as Grade A or Grade B. It can be sold as commercial grade syrup or in some cases be used in cooking. The syrup is then placed in bulk containers or stored in five gallon or larger containers and bottled into consumer sized jugs or bottles with the the appropriate labeling and grade.
Grade A golden color with delicate taste- very light color, delicate maple flavor, mostly used for confections. Some like it for table syrup
Grade A Amber color with rich taste- slightly darker in color, more of a true slightly richer maple flavor, good table syrup also used for confections
Grade A Dark color with Robust taste- darker yet and more robust very rich maple flavor. Becoming the table syrup of choice. Can also be used in cooking.
Grade A Very Dark Strong taste Very dark in color- robust complex maple flavor with hints of caramel, molasses. Used as a table syrup and in cooking.
although I do not have a shopping cart (it is in the works though) I can maple syrup, honey, and some confections (maple candy and Maple Cream) The best way is contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org I can send you a price list andI can also take Credit cards over the phone as well. You can try to call but it usually ends in phone tag and I have lost customers because we can't seem to get in touch with each other.
If there is ever a problem with a container of syrup please let me know. I am very careful when I bottle my syrup. I only use clean new containers for retail. Occasionally there my be a defective seal or cap that are out of my control. Please bring it back and I will replace the container of syrup or refund your money. I know a few maple producers that have had problems with mold due to a bad seal. But I haven't had any issues.... knock on wood!
If you have a little sugar crystals in your syrup this means I made the syrup too dense. Which is good for you, you get a bit more syrup. Just add a bit of water to the container put it in the microwave for about 15 seconds and shake it up this will dissolve the crystals and you have a bit more syrup or the crystals can be removed and eaten they are the same as rock candy.