Completed First 55 Gallon Drum of Maple Syrup

by Tig Tillinghast

We made about 25 gallons today, on a day that really should have produced more sap. My own data collected over some years shows what everyone else already knows: that temps in the low 20s at night and high 40s during the day produce the great runs. Despite getting temperatures at least that good and the fact that the wind wasn’t so bad, we stopped boiling before dark.

One oldtimer rhyme runs, “Wind from the east, sap runs the least. Wind from the west, the sap runs the best.” Our wind (about 5 mph) came from the east, but that’s a pretty lame breeze to matter so much. Here’s a picture of the wind pushing our steam toward the setting sun.

Nevertheless, we’re happy for what we receive, allowing us to finish off our first 55 gallon drum of maple syrup. Now we just need to figure out how to lift it.

The evaporator ran well – one of those days you regret having to shut down because the rig seems to be on a roll, pushing off more steam than seems probable. Here is John stoking the draw-off side while his friend, Addy keeps an eye on the temperature while the maple syrup keeps rolling off. Our stack temperature ran up to 650 degrees, even without the use of softwood.

Speaking of wood, we may or may not have enough this year. We had a truck load of wood delivered some mornings ago. This little pile is really meant for next year, but we’ve started to eye it. Note how some of those sugar maple stems are running sap out of the sapwood, even as they lie cut. I have half a mind to affix a couple buckets on them to see what sort of quantity we could get out of them, especially as they’re visible from the road.