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Sap to Syrup

Once we have about 6000 gal of sap it's time start making syrup. Remember that maple syrup is simply maple sap that's had most of its water removed and been caramelized by cooking. Because sap is around 2% sugar (the rest water), and syrup is 67% sugar, it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.


Reverse Osmosis

The first step in the concentration process, which takes the sap from 2% to 16% sugar, is to run the raw sap through a reverse osmosis (RO) machine. In brief, sap is forced through a very fine filter, or "semi-permeable membrane", which separates the relatively small water molecules from the comparably larger sugar molecules.




The evaporator is the heart and soul of the sugarhouse. Made in Vermont of polished stainless steel and measuring four feet wide by 14 feet long, it dominates our workspace. This is where all that carefully collected maple sap is boiled down to its beautifully pure form. The sound of sap in a rolling boil and the warm fragrant smell coming off the syrup pan on a warm spring afternoon often result in a rocking chair nap.




As the syrup is drawn off from the evaporator it flows into a thirty gallon stainless steel tank where it is mixed with diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of diatoms, single celled organisms that produce hard shells. These shells have small holes in them that allow the small sugar, water and flavor particles that make up syrup to pass through while blocking larger pieces of undissolved material that make the syrup look cloudy. This mixture of syrup and diatomaceous earth is pumped into hollow cavities in a filter press where the diatomaceous earth is trapped by papers that the syrup passes through.



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