Maple Syrup Production

Two Buckets Maple Sap
Two Buckets Maple Sap.

In small scale maple syrup production they still make use of the bucket for maple sap collection.

Over the years we have enjoyed our experiences in these cozy rustic surroundings.

After enjoying a traditional sugar shack breakfast, we burn off those excess calories on the walking trails around the sugar lot.

It's an enjoyable experience that we look forward to every spring.

maple syrup forest

The sound of singing birds fills the air as the early spring sun melts away the months of accumulated snow.

Silver buckets suspended from maple trees dot the landscape.

The woodshed is fully stocked and ready for another season of maple syrup production.

a maple syrup sugar shack

As you continue along the trail, you approach the sugar shack down the hill.

Its' wood stove is running at high capacity. The hot fire boils off the excess water as it transforms the maple sap into maple syrup.

With each step that you take, the faint smell of wood smoke grows steadily stronger.

All that excess water leaves the boiler and escapes up the chimney. The rising steam quickly dissipates into the cool crisp air of a Quebec spring afternoon.

Maple Sap Collection

Maple syrup production starts with the collection of maple sap. The maple tree is "tapped" by drilling a small hole into the trunk.

The hole is 5cm (2in) deep and 1cm (1/4in) wide.

A spigot or tap is placed inside the hole which enables the sap to flow out of the tree.

These small "taps" or holes do not harm the tree in any way. You could equate them to a small cut.

Sap will only flow from a tap during one season. After the season is over the tree begins its' natural healing process, effectively sealing itself off. A new hole must be drilled in a different location each year.

The average tree will produce enough sap to create just under 1 litre (35 fl.oz.) of Pure Maple Syrup every season.

The Bucket Versus the Plumbing

close up of a bucket collecting maple sap
The traditional approach to sap collection involves letting the sap run into a bucket. However sap cannot stay in a bucket for long; it must be boiled on the same day that it is collected.

Walking from tree to tree emptying buckets is a slow and labour intensive process.

It is also cost prohibitive when you're running a large-scale maple syrup production.

The bucket has been replaced with "maple plumbing" in most operations.

plastic tubes replace the bucket and transfer the sap directly to the sugar shack

Elaborate tree-to-tree plastic tubing is used to run the sap directly to the sugar camp. It's either pumped or gravity fed directly into the maple sap collector at the sugar house.

a web of plastic tubing transports maple sap across the forest floor

Admittedly this web of plastic tubing isn't nearly as picturesque as a landscape dotted with silver buckets.

However, for what it lacks in beauty, it certainly makes up for in efficiency.

This is the final destination for that vast network of plastic tubing.

You can clearly see the maple sap as it gushes into the silver collector.

The automation of this process eliminates the use of a lot buckets and manual labor.

Maple Syrup Evaporator

steam rises from a maple sap evaporator

The sap is transformed into maple syrup with the help of an evaporator.

An evaporator is a large container where the sap is boiled. This decreases the water content thereby increasing the sugar content.

Approximately 40 litres of sap will be evaporated to obtain 1 litre of maple syrup.

If the maple producer prolongs the cooking time of the syrup he will obtain other maple products.

The following chart details how different temperatures are used to create a variety of different maple products.

a chart indicates which temperatures are required to produce a variety of maple syrup products

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