Sweet Results

So, after we have all the trees tapped it is just a matter of waiting for the sugar water to start flowing.  This year we had a fairly long season, thanks to the weather being colder longer.  When the nights are freezing and the days are above freezing with little wind we were collecting our buckets once a day.

The method for collecting changed this year because of how many more trees were tapped.  This year we used two food grade 50 gallon barrels strapped into the back of the truck.  Once and a while we had to strap one of the barrels on the front of the tractor to make it out to the trees because of all the snow and mud we had, but we got there. 🙂  We would empty the sugar water into 5 gallon buckets and then pour them into the barrels on the truck.  For us this worked out really well although, for next year we might have to upgrade to three 50 gallon barrels to have enough space to store all the sugar water in between boiling down batches.


When things were really flowing we would boil down 2-3 times a week.  There are a lot of clever ways I have seen people set up to boil down sugar water.  This is what our set up looks like.


My husband took an old oil barrel and cut out a little door on the end to put wood in and also cut out the hole in the top for the pan to fit into.  The pan has been around Polyface for a couple decades.  Daniel had it made when he started harvesting maple syrup years ago.  It is a stainless steel pan 6″deep x 3′ wide x 4′ long and holds about 30 gallons of sugar water.  The boiling down usually lasted most of the day for us.  It is important to keep the fire hot and have your sugar water constantly boiling.  Toward the end of boiling down we have to keep a close eye on the syrup to make sure it doesn’t get too thin in the pan and burn.  When the syrup gets thin we quickly pull the pan off the fire and transfer it to a big stock pot.  At this point we strain the syrup through fine cheesecloth to filter anything out.  Usually the syrup still needs to boil down for another hour on the stove top to reach the correct brix level.


We warm up jars in the oven and when the hydrometer says the syrup is done, into the jars it goes!


The next part is the best, we mix up a batch of our favorite pancakes and slather them in maple syrup!  Couldn’t ask for sweeter results! 🙂


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About Leanna Hale

Leanna Barth, born and raised in NC, first came to Polyface in July 2010 to attend one of the Intensive Discovery Seminars. She loved it so much that she applied for an internship position and was accepted for the 2011 season, after which she took the inventory/gardener position. Before coming to Polyface, she sold produce from her family’s market garden, along with homemade baked goods. This venture was mostly inspired by having read “You Can Farm” by Joel Salatin. Having always loved the outdoors, animals, and gardening Leanna is excited about this coming year, all that she will learn, and how the Lord will use this job later on in her life.
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2 Responses to Sweet Results

  1. Kristin says:

    Wow! That looks like a lot of work, but really fun and satisfying. Would love to try some of your syrup, Leanna!!

  2. James M. Ray says:

    This gives me ideas about combining a syrup boiler with making “biochar” for our soil, which down here in FL is pretty sandy & poor without help. The process generates a tremendous quantity of heat, and but for the lack of maples, it’s a great idea. Anyway, you guys could do it, too, if you’re able to adapt to a top-down burn that’s incomplete. Biochar requires chips of a uniform size & moisture content, so it might not be worth the effort. But OTOH it’s a useful and sellable product, and it’s said to sequester CO2 to some extent, although I’m not too sure about that! Anyway, what you’re doing looks delicious! I’d love to visit someday.