This week we decided to stop the tapping of our Maple trees and start finishing our syrup. Technically we probably could have collected sap a bit longer, but we were also keen to start on our Birch trees as well.
Our objective this year was to increase our Maple syrup production and we certainly managed this by tapping a few more trees. Our process was changed however since we did this as a single batch. We acquired a large 60 litre pot to which we continuously added sap as it was evaporated. The entire thing was heated by a propane burner.
|Our batch processing set-up for Maple syrup|
We had filtered every batch of sap, but before finishing the syrup we filtered it again to prevent the occurrence of Maple sand (the crystallization of natural minerals like calcium and magnesium).
|Second filtration of the Maple sap|
|Differences in sap colour seemed to also indicate differences in sugar content|
|The kitchen set-up for syrup finishing|
One of the things we did notice is that you can almost tell things are done by sight. When the sap boils at 100 degrees C, the movement is rapid and turbulent. When the syrup stage is reached, a massive amount of small bubbles are created on the surface.
|Boiling at 100 degrees C|
|Boiling at the syrup stage|
|Ridge Berry Farm Maple syrup: "cuvee" 2014|
The process is identical to making Maple syrup, however it should be noted that Black Walnut syrup consists of both fructose and sucrose (Maple is primarily sucrose). Our Birch syrup experiment last year proved that fructose was much more sensitive to heavy boiling in the finishing stage (and as such easy to burn).
We noticed that the Black Walnut was also sensitive but perhaps not as much as Birch.
So what did we end up with....3 little jugs of a fine syrup which was surprisingly good with some floral and nutty tones (not the heavy Black Walnut taste we were expecting).
|Our Black Walnut syrup|
In the end, this was an experiment worth completing and next year we expect to have Black Walnut syrup on our market shelves.
With this work complete, we could now look forward to Birch syrup production. Last year was an experiment, this year we aim to produce enough to sell.
|The latest "freebie" dropped off at the barn|
This has given us an idea. We will not discuss it now, but you can expect an interesting announcement in June, when our first berries are picked.
We will conclude this blog entry with a quick photo taken this week. Hopefully this will be the last snow we see in a long while.
|Pelham in mid-April???|