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About vtfireman85

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    Advanced Member
  • Birthday 03/28/1985

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    Mt Tabor, VT
  • Interests
    Electricity, Tractors, Jeeps, Home Brewing, Skiing, Paddling, Hiking, and a dozen more things I haven't got time for!

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  1. DD, after re-reading some of your post some sugar makers make better syrup than others due to a great number of reasons. #1 in my mind is how they handle their sap, sap should be processed very quickly, it goes south in a hurry, especially when we get really warm days, if were able, we gather, even if it was a lousy run. getting it out of the buckets/tank and boiled into the evaporator kills bacteria that can affect flavor and makes for the freshest most pure tasting product. other factors can be things such as how finicky the sugar maker is to making SURE his density is correct. to heavy and it will precipitate sugar crystals at a very rapid rate, to light it can ferment. ( i had one jug do that once, it was really weird and tasted gross smelled pretty awful too, we ended up ditching the hydrometer and getting a new one, it had gotten bumped and i think the scale moved) one thing that is important to remember through the whole process is that you are handing peoples food. and it should be treated as such. our sugar woods tends to run light, and we get it processed quickly, i expect a run tomorrow if the south wind doesn't keep them shut down. north and west winds are best for a good run, south and east it often wont run at all, no idea why. another thing that i firmly believe affects flavor is R.O. reverse osmosis, it concentrates sap down to some very high densities, many folks go to 8-12 brix and i dont really taste a difference, but some of the big time production producers will go as far as 30-40 brix, at that point your almost to syrup without ever boiling it. best explanation is that it doesn't have long enough in the pan to "caramelize" i find this syrup to have a hollow flavor and often the color is darker. sugar makers who are selling commercial grade syrup can stretch a little more out of their season, if our grades drop below a certain satisfactory level, we shut down for the year, those guys who sell bulk for cooking use can get away with lower grades and lower flavor standards, if it is a bit buddy its no big deal in bushes baked beans or packaged bacon. we used to have 4 grades in our kit and anything darker was commercial, we had Fancy, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber and B since then everyone has switched to the "new international standard" and we have grade A Golden Delicate, Grade A Amber Rich,Grade A Dark Robust, everyone in VT thinks its stupid, but hey, who said this was a democracy?
  2. DD, there are many different setups in evaporators from stone simple to very complex, but it all works out to the same principal, sap enters the evaporator a given spot, most evaporators are set up so that you can switch sides that it enters without switching the place it enters from, most evaporators have a front and back pan, HP's rig however doesnt and there are some others out there. but anyway, if you refer to my pics from before you will see 2 different pans, the sap enters the back pan and as more raw filtered sap enters, it pushes the hot boiling sap ahead of it, as you can imagine the sap that has been in the pan longer has had time to evaporate more. so the sap that came into the pan at 2 brix or 2 percent sugar content, think of a bucket of water with one spoonful of sugar in it, is slowly reducing as it is pushed through a maze of partitions back and forth in the back pan. our back pan only has one partition, some have more. it then flows through a valve with an adjustable float so the sugar maker can adjust the depth his front pan is running, just like he does the back pan. but now the sap is at a much higher sugar content of say, 20 brix our front pan has 6 partitions, so as more 20 brix sap enters the pan it pushes the heavyer thicker sweeter stuff ahead of it. it zigzags through the partitions untill it reaches the side the syrup is being drawn off from. as we all know water boils at 212 degrees and no matter how much heat you put to it you wont get it hotter, sugar however boils hotter so we have a thermometer that starts at waters boiling point and is marked up to 7 degrees. and we adjust this every day. syrup is syrup at 219 degrees and 66 brix, vermont is very rigid about the percentage, other states are more lax, that may be why our syrup is so far superior to EVERYONE (see that NH?) EVERYONE elses. every sugarmaker has his or her own methodoligy and every rig has its own quirks, it does require constant vigilence to make sure you dont have syrup forming one or 2 partitions away or that you havent run too thin in the pan, that you have enough sap to keep boiling. wood fired evaporators like ours add several more layers to this complex equation. once we are at 219 degrees on the thermomemter and our Hydrometer is floating at the bottom of the red line indicating hot syrup( it is adjusted for the temperature of the syrup) we can start to draw off, now based on how quickly the temps are rising and how hot the fire is, and how much sap is left you either start to draw quickly or slowly, sometimes at the end of the night we "coax" a "draw" along by pulling it off very very very slowly. on a fast draw you get stuff thats gone a bit too dense or sweet and stuff that is not quite there yet, and you keep adding stuff that is not quite there untill you get the proper density as tested with the hydrometer. at this point you filter the hot syrup and we put ours in either 5 gallon plastic bulk containers or stainless 1/4 kegs this year. when it comes time to can we have essentially a 20 gallon stainless square pot that we filter the contense of the bulk containers into and heat to between 180 to 200 degrees and then using the valve we fill different size and style jugs, glass display jars, whatever is required. then its ready for sale. the worst, hands down WORST thing a sugar maker can do is run out of sap. so the number one priority in every sugarmakers mind is how much do i have left? our evaporator consumes 3.2 million BTU/HR and is wood fired. if i fill the fire box and then realize i have no sap left in my tank it will evaporate all the sap in the pans and burn the joints out of them and cause them to become warped and scorched.....best case scenareo. at that i am looking at an easy 10K to replace. and probably an end to my season while i wait. at worst you end up with a fire on your hands. handing over the reigns of the evaporator is not something to be taken lightly. the oil or propane guys do have an advantage in that respect, when they are out of sap they turn off the switch and go home. but then they have to pay for it.... ICK!
  3. Delta, maple is the state tree of WV i think, i suspect the farthest south you could go would have more to do with weather and season duration than anything else, they need some serious shutdown time between leaves falling and buds coming. but to answer your question properly anything south of the VT/MA border wouldn't be acceptable to eat, the only proper syrup comes from Vermont.
  4. George One way to tell is crown shape, another is leaves, soft maple is a somewhat generic term to refer to red maple and several other deferent varieties, mountain maple has a jagged leaf with main lobes, and is properly known as acre spicatum. Sugar or rock maple is properly acre saccharum red maple would be acer rubrum and silver maple would be acer saccharinum black maple would be acer nigrum, these are the most common maples around the northern us and probably southern Canada of the bunch sugar and black maple are most closely related, when referring to soft maple around here most of the time people are talking about red maple which does not run as sweet and often buds out earlier than sugar maple causing foul sap, if it's on buckets, no big deal, you just pull the tap. If it's on pipeline it'll lower the quality of the whole tank once it turns buddy.
  5. Yes MTO, there is something wrong with me. No run today so I made some candy to take care of some people who have been after me to do some. Pardon the groceries, we do a lot of cracker food this time of year😉Saves much time and wards off starvation
  6. Great outfit, I go to them for oddball stuff like the B-275 always a pleasure.
  7. Be careful wit that craftsman wrench, if you turn them down past the indication marks the internal nut comes off. Only one year warranty on them.
  8. Trouble is, I don't really like it. Too sweet.
  9. Fully automatic are all that is available to the general public, and that's all I'd want, not qualified to handle something like that.
  10. Mark, we carry Lifepack units on our trucks, I would consult with your local rescue squad/ems privider or local hospital, they would be able to guide you best as to what and how to buy. They are like a chainsaw, all the major brands are good. The true deciding factor really should be the best fastest servicing dealer. Also there may be funds available to an entity such as a church to help with cost.
  11. Leader Evaporator has a Midwest store and distributors all over the place, they make a fine product with EXCELLENT support. NH, we've been running very low sugar content this year, averaging about 1.7and holding steady all year. It's been grueling to at the least. Tonight is my first night getting to bed before 2 am in a week. It does begin to wear on a person... why is this fun?😉🔫
  12. Townline in Claremont
  13. the CIH dealer had a 50-250 ft/lb for around 190 last year, very very very nice unit. no idea who made it but it was labeled CASE/IH mine is a Carlyle from NAPA, that is also a very nice tool.
  14. Having a rough night tonight, we got into the wet wood and tings have slowed down significantly. Ugh!