The production of maple syrup marks the sign of spring. However, before the buds break and the foliage come out on the trees, there is a lot of work to be done. At our sugarbush, the tapping of the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) trees begins during our weekends in January. In our production, there are too many trees to be tapped to leave until March when everything must be ready for the sap flow!
Other maple species can be used but the best tasting sap with the least sediments is sugar maple.
Annually, each tree must be drilled to be able to collect the sap flow. For the protection of human health and the tree resource, we do not use paraformaldehyde in the tap holes. (In case you were wondering, this practice has been banned since 1990).
Each tap is connected to a tubing system that leads to the main boiling station. This tubing system stays in place all year round.
Unique To The Spring
When the winter temperatures give way to the warming spring, and we have days of +5 °C and nights of -5° C, the sap in the trees starts to rise. In our geographical region, this occurs about in the middle of March. At this point, the sugar production goes into full force.
The sap that is collected from the trees is piped to a pumping station and then pumped to the main boiling building. Here the sap is first concentrated with a highly efficient reverse-osmosis system. The more concentrated sap water is then piped to the boiler, for further reduction. The maple syrup is ready when the temperature of the liquid is 4° C higher than the boiling temperature of water (100°C or 212° F at 1 atmosphere of pressure (sea level). The boiling point is adjusted with each batch of syrup produced as the atmospheric pressure changes.
When the syrup has been boiled to the right temperature, the concentrated sap is filtered and then canned immediately.
Until about the middle of April there is an approximately four-week window available to harvest the sap from the trees.
When the buds on the trees begin to swell, this marks the end of the production season. The buds break and the leaves on the trees expand fully. The leaves capture the CO2 in the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis and this in turn is converted to sugars that become available for the growth of the healthy tree.
At the end of the season, every spigot in every tree must be untapped and the system cleaned to allow the trees to heal, recuperate and prepare for the next spring.
Throughout the rest of the year, the forest is maintained and so are all the infrastructures that are used in the capturing of the maple sap. Maintenance is a never-ending process.