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Posts Tagged ‘sap collection’

Here is my second post of what I hope to be many about what goes into the making of our Gourmet Maple Syrup here at Sweet Brook Farm.  I figured I would give you a little background so you could see where we were, where we are, and where we are going.

Back in March 2009, Pete and I paid a visit to The Red Bucket Sugar Shack, owned by Jeff and LeAnn Mason in Worthington, MA.  They run a weekend brunch during sugaring season, so we decided to see what they knew.  Jeff is a distributor for all the major sugaring equipment manufacturers and has over 40 years experience sugaring.  We had him out to see our place a few times to help us plan out how we could begin producing maple syrup.  He toured our 106 acres, looked at our trees, and started pondering a plan.  He would help us install the sap lines through the trees using his innovative techniques that he’s developed over his lifetime of sugaring.

Lots of trees and brush had to be removed to make our Maple Strategy a reality

Our property has several sugar bushes, or groupings of maple trees, scattered around the property.  Because we do not have roads to get to the bases of these areas, we wanted to limit our encounter with the notorious mud season and get the sap to a central pumping station.  Our strategy was to run tubing out of each of the sugar bushes to a series of vacuum releaser tanks that would then force all the sap to the pump house.  From the pump house, the sap will get pumped up to the sugar house.

One of the problems we ran into was the fact that we have pasture land that we use for cutting hay and, in the future, would like to put beef cattle in.  To get the sap from the different areas to a pump house would require running tubes across this pasture.  So we decided to bury the main sap lines and vacuum lines.

In August, while Jeff Mason was installing lines in the sugar bushes, we hired Scott & Lee Morrison Excavating to help us clear brush and dig trenches for the buried main lines.  We also had our friend, Larry Luczynski, owner of Timberline Builders in Chatham, MA come to help Pete with laying the lines.

The trenches were 12 feet deep in some places

Naturally, the lines had to be put in so that they were always flowing downhill, and in some places, this meant trenches that were over 12 feet deep because of the terrain.

Our underground mainline strategy has yielded some additional benefits.  Because sap contains sugar, it is a breeding ground for naturally present bacteria, and sap should always be processed, refrigerated, or treated with U/V light as soon as possible after it is collected.  Any bacteria in the sap gets boiled and killed during syrup production, so it is safe for consumption.  But that is also why there are different grades of syrup. Darker syrup is usually made from sap collected later in the season; warmer daytime temperatures and/or sap sitting in collection tanks induce bacteria growth.  However, we believe that because our sap is immediately getting pumped from the trees through underground lines, and directly to the sugar house, we minimize bacteria growth.  We predict that, if our maple production goes well, we will have a higher volume of lighter, purer syrup.

Stay tuned for more about the pump house, our facility installation, and the sugar bush tubing system!

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