Maple syrup has been around for a very long time. The first people known to have manufactured maple syrup were indigenous to the northeast part of North America before the first arrival of European settlers to the area.
Legends suggest that the earliest methods of tapping the maple trees involved cutting into the tree bark and letting the sap flow into birch bark buckets. Later methods changed to tapping the tree by boring holes into the bark to allow the sap to flow out.
The sap was boiled down to make syrup and granulated or block sugar.
We have over 16000 taps on nearly 300 acres of beautiful maple bush in the heart of Northern Ontario.
Light blue 5/16 inch tubing can be seen all over our property. Sap is also collected in buckets near our sugar shack.
Is It Spring Yet?
We start ‘walking lines’ in the early fall, looking for fallen trees, animal damage (squirrel nibblings and bear bites), and any other repairs or replacements that may be needed to tubing.
We also flush the tubing in the fall which will make any leaks evident. Bears will chomp on brand new tubing leaving sizeable holes. We usually replace several whole sections of tubing when bear bites are discovered.
Lines of tubing are also levelled in the fall before the snow comes.
We have 3 pump houses throughout the bush. The blue lines (tubing) are sloped toward each pump house.
We did try a gravity flow pump house one year, but found the quantity of sap collected was significantly lower than using a vacuum system.
Each pump house has the capacity to store approximately 1200 gallons of sap.
The Sugar Shack
Our sugar shack houses the evaporator where the sap is boiled down to make the maple syrup.
The Reverse Osmosis machine is also located here – while in operation it is quite loud so it is housed in a separate room.
Our bottling room is also located in the Sugar Shack – we currently bottle in both glass and plastic containers – from 250 ml to 4 litre sizes. We currently sell most of our syrup in 34 gallon stainless steel drums.
How It’s Done: Syrup Production
We use food grade tubing to transport the sap from the tree to 3 pump stations. The sap is then transferred to the sugar shack by high pressure pumps.
The raw sap is then processed through a Reverse Osmosis machine where up to 75% of the water is removed. We use the filtrate, or water, to flush machinery used in the production process.
The concentrated sap is then sent to the wood fired evaporator where it is boiled until it becomes maple syrup.
It’s All About That Brix
The Brix, or sugar content, of maple syrup must be between 66.0 to 68.9 (Maple syrup is usually ready when the its temperature is approximately 7 degrees above the boiling point of water – around 219 degrees. However, this can fluctuate with barometric pressure.)
It takes 40 litres of raw maple sap to make 1 litre of finished maple syrup.