The act of making maple syrup is a relatively simple and very old practice. Each maple tree has its own unlimited supply of sap - a sugar water mixture that in the spring of the year moves back and forth from the tree’s roots to the tree’s crown. This time of year is the only time of year to harvest the sugar-laden sap for maple syrup production.
Sugarin’ starts with the annual trek into the snow-covered maple sugarbush to tap the trees. All the trees are tapped by hand using a drill. The spiles (spouts that the sap drips through from the tree) are driven into the tree with a mallet. Generally, the sap begins to “run” in mid-March when the days are above 40℉ and nights below 32℉. Tapping the trees does not harm them in any way. Here at Whataview Farm we make sure to follow a set of guidelines in order to ensure that our maple trees maintain good health.
Sterile tubing is attached to each tree spile to allow the sap to run to a main collection point in the sugar bush - we call it the pump house. The pump house contains a vacuum pump (for helping to draw the sap into the pump house) and a transfer pump (to transfer the sap from the pump house to the sugar house). The pump house contains a collecting tank that holds up to 250 gallons of sap. The sugar house, contains a collecting tank that holds up to 1200 gallons of sap.
As the weather warms during the spring of the year, the sap begins to “run”. It is drawn from the sugar bush, to the pump house, from the pump house, to the sugar house. Once it reaches the sugar house it is moved from its holding tank to the R O (reverse osmosis) supply tank. The R O removes half of the water by forcing it through a membrane. From the R O is goes to the evaporator supply tank and into the evaporator. Our 3’x12’, oil-fired evaporator can evaporate 100 gallons of sap per hour, producing anywhere from 2-4 gallons of maple syrup per hour. Yes, it takes a lot of sap to make only a little syrup! It also takes a lot of fuel!
As syrup is drawn off at the end of the evaporation process, it is filtered and put into storage containers. From there the syrup is taken to the finishing room, brought to the correct weight in a 2’ x 4’ finishing pan, filtered a second time, and finally bottled. Whataview Farm produces maple syrup that is all natural and registered as Something Special from Wisconsin.
The R O machine at work.
Steam rising from the sugar house.
Maple syurp ready to enjoy!