Making Syrup

We produce our maple syrup from the most efficient use of energy possible. All mechanicals are powered by two on-site solar arrays. Our two and a half by ten-foot long evaporator is fueled by wood we harvest from the sugar woods, and uses gasification technology that creates near zero particulate emissions and significantly lowers our wood consumption. Sap from each tree (about 2% sugar) travels through a closed pipeline vacuum system using an energy efficient variable frequency drive motor on a frictionless rotary claw pump and flows into a 2100-gallon stainless steel storage tank. A reverse osmosis machine initially removes some water from the sap (to about 10% sugar) before it is fed to our 325-gallon stainless feed tank. From there the sap enters the steamaway pan that, with no additional energy input but with a 40% gain in efficiency output, begins the boiling process. Finally the sap reaches the flue pan and then the syrup pan before it is drawn off at 66.9% sugar, pumped through our filter press, and put into clean 40-gallon stainless drums. The process is continuous and intense and requires strict attention while loading wood into the firebox, checking sap levels, taking hydrometer readings, checking foam, and chatting with an occasional visitor. Our setup is designed to be operated solo, but work is made easier when my wife, Andrea, and kids, Elliott and Phoebe, are all involved. In northern Vermont, when the sap flows from the end of February until the middle of April, there is no room to be lazy.

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