Sustainable Agriculture | Maple Syrup | Maple Syrup Equipment | Consider making your own delicious maple syrup.
It only takes a few maple trees to support a family; if you have a large grove of maple trees you might just have extra income potential.
Nothing serves up better on hot pancakes, waffles, or french toast than some homemade-maple-syrup. The process is slow and takes some practice, but it is simpler than you may think.
The art of maple-syrup-making dates back to our early ancestries learning the process from native Indians. Back then sap was extracted from the tree by cutting notches out and using the bark made into a basket to catch the sap. Today a simple 7/16” hole is drilled into the tree and a metal spout taps into the hole. The metal spouts are made with a hook to hang buckets or plastic bags designed to catch the sap.
Trees that have reached a diameter of at least 10” measured at 4-1/2’ off the ground are ready to be tapped with one tap, trees double that size can support two taps. Sugar maple trees are the best producers of sap, but all varieties of maple trees will produce the sap to make maple syrup.
It does take a lot of sap to make just one quart of syrup, as much as 10-15 gallons, but the process is all the same. One sugar maple tree can produce up to two or more gallons of sap in two to three days. Other varieties will not produce as much.
It also depends on the weather and temperatures, sap collecting is a spring event based on the zones of the country. The prime collection time is when the trees sap begins rising to feed spring growth and just when the temperatures start breaking above 40 degrees during the day, with nights still drop below the freezing point. Waiting too long or storing sap above normal refrigerator temperatures of 45 degrees will cause the sap to spoil. This means the sap has to be collected frequently if the sun is out and temperatures creep above the 45 degree mark.
The next production process requires the sap to be boiled down to only a fraction of the amount of sap you use. This is why it takes so much to make one quart. The collection of 30-40 gallons of sap to supply a family with 3 quarts of syrup is probably the easy part. The amount of work and time for the processing depends on what you plan to use to boil the sap down.
It can take up to five hours to boil down five gallons of sap, if you are just using a single propane burner, such as the popular turkey fryer burners. Obviously the larger the container that can be heated and kept boiling for a length of time will allow you to produce larger volumes of syrup at one time.
A single burner propane burner is what most home owners will have on hand. Cottage Craft Works does carry a stainless steel propane burner heated pan, perfect for the hobby farm which can also be used for other outdoor cooking such as a crayfish, shrimp or lobster boil.
Over the years people have made all types of contraptions to boil down maple syrup, most use wood fire heat, some use oil and then propane. You will only want to boil down the sap outside as it will produce a large amount of continuous steam.
Wood fire is probably the most popular for small family and hobby farm production. The basic construction is made from aluminum or stainless food grade pan to hold the boiling sap that sits over a wood fire or propane heat source. You can search the Internet for plans; many use a 55 gallon drum with a wood stove hardware kit. Instead of just balancing a pan on top it needs to inset into the top and become part of the burning chamber to capture the most and hottest heat.
Cottage Craft Works sells complete factory made maple-syrup-wood-fired-cookers for the hobby farm all the way up to commercial syrup production. These are made from stainless steel and actually have fins made to sit down into the burning chamber and around the flue outlet to capture the most heat.
Maple-syrup-cookers are sized based on the output production, for example the smaller 2 X 4 cooker from Cottage Craft Works will produce up to 20 gallons per hour. However, that is still contingent on the type of wood and how attentive the operator is in keeping the fire hot.
Once the sap is boiled down it will still require another finishing process. Based on the quantity the finishing process can be completed in the house on a standard stove or outside again on a propane stove.
The finishing process requires bringing the liquid to 7.1 degrees above the boiling point without burning until the sugar content reaches 66 to 67 percent as measured with a hydrometer. Once cooled the syrup is strained and ready for use.
Syrup will generally store in refrigeration’s for up to 6 months or it can be bottled after heating back up to 180 degrees and poured into sterilized jars. You should research proper bottling and safe sealing procedures or purchase a good book on maple-syrup-processing before attempting make and store maple syrup.
Cottage Craft Works is a back-to-basics outlet for all types of products and equipment to make home based food products. Cottage Craft Works not only carries maple syrup cookers, they have a very good A-Z book on maple-syrup-processing as well as the tree taps, a maple syrup skimmer, and a Stainless-Steel-hydrometer-cup used to sample the syrup for the sugar reading. You can purchase by going directly to this link Cottage Craft Works Maple Syrup Equipment.
All Stainless Steel items are Amish made in Northern Indiana Amish metal shop, which has been making maple syrup processing products for years.
Cottage Craft Works is also a full line general store with products to help people fine and live a more self-sufficient life style. Bee hives and beekeeping equipment, as well as all types of food processing equipment are available at http://www.cottagecraftworks.com.