"The following was taken from Sugar Hill Containers'
"Russ' Hints for the Maple Syrup Producer"
written by Russ Davenport of Shelburne, MA. Revised 10/03
One of the finest products that "Mother Nature" has given us is Maple Syrup. To begin with, maple sap straight
is sparkling clear, slightly sweet water. Its purpose is to nourish the new buds in early spring. We have
learned to collect this sweet essence of springtime and to make it into delicious Maple Syrup.
You don't have to be a big time producer to make fine Maple Syrup. A few simple common sense rules may help the hobbyist as well as the more involved producer. Promptness and cleanliness are probably the most important. Process your sap as soon as possible after a run, and keep your equipment clean.
The following hints are intended to guide you into having more fun and less work. After all, sugaring is still a hobby to most sugar makers. My hobbies are dairy farming and maple sugaring. My profession is hunting and fishing.
Remember the syrup that comes out of a plastic syrup bottle and onto the pancakes is only as good as the syrup
that went into the bottle in the first place. Be sure of the density of your syrup. Heavy syrup will
crystallize in time. Light syrup will spoil. If the bottle becomes round on the bottom, don't blame the bottle.
It is the syrup that is spoiling. The pressure within the bottle blows the bottom our. The cap and seal are good,
as they have held the pressure. This syrup usually can be re-boiled and brought to the correct density. As the
boiling takes place, more niter or sugar sand is produced and therefore the syrup must be filtered.
It is much easier to have the syrup correct in the first place rather than to have a problem later. The quickest way to lose a customer or sales is to have a poor product.
The best guarantee when placing a superior package of pure maple syrup before the customer is to use procedures
tested by time.
When using plastic bottles, the syrup must be hot when putting up. ‘Do not guess! Use a thermometer and aim for 200 F. This will insure a temperature of at least 180 F when the syrup hits the bottle. Be careful of the first and last bottles of a batch, as the syrup may not be up to the correct temperature.
One of the worst problems in filling is the foam that forms from too much pressure or an irregular stream of syrup going into the bottle. Place a quarter turn valve in the line ahead of the filling gate. This is important especially when multiple filling valves are used. The quarter turn valve will regulate the pressure to create a nice even flow of syrup into the bottle.
Keep the top of the bottle clean and do not overfill. The greatest reason for leakers is overfilling. Fill the bottle to the base of the screw neck quickly and cap immediately. When not capped quickly, the plastic becomes soft and it is possible to over tighten the cap and strip the threads. Cool quickly and store in a cool, dark place free of dust and dirt. Put up only enough syrup to last a couple of months. Put a nice clean, fresh bottle of pure maple syrup before the customer and you will get a satisfied friend that will be the best advertisement you can have.
Capping Plastic Containers
It is no longer necessary to lay our container on its side to prevent fermentation. Properly heated syrup
(190-200 F), will sterilize the cap area and activate the seal without direct contact.
Be sure to put the cap on quickly after filling - before hot syrup has time to soften threads. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN and DO NOT OVERFILL. Overfilling will cause leaking when the container cools.
Remember where the filling line is...
...at the bottom of the threads and the top of the spout handle line.
The quality of the maple syrup that you put into a container is indicative of what will come out. This is true whether
the container is a quart or a barrel. Whether a housewife or someone who buys bulk syrup for canning opens the container,
they expect the grade to be true. The small producer who fills barrels only partially each day cannot get a true grade
unless the whole barrel is mixed. When the bulk prices are high, this is very important to the buyer. Be sure that you
replace the bung each time syrup is put in a barrel. It is not good to have mice or squirrels swimming in your syrup.
Most buyers of bulk syrup inspect and grade the syrup before purchase. Give yourself the best chance for profit by doing the best job you can in presenting your syrup for sale. Good, clean containers help.
Remember, under-done syrup spoils; over-done syrup costs you and the buyer money. "Get it right."
Care of Maple syrup in the Home
The maple producer has taken great care in the making of your maple syrup. After you have purchased your syrup, its care is
your responsibility. The best place to store unopened plastic containers of syrup is in your freezer. After opening, use your
syrup generously and store the remainder in your refrigerator, or place it in the freezer if you do not intend to use the
remainder within three months.
If a film of mold should form on the top of the syrup - do not throw it out! Simply bring the syrup to a boil, skim and store in a clean container. This will restore the syrup to its original quality.
Should you find crystals in the container remove the syrup and add a little water to the crystals and heat. A microwave oven will do this nicely.
To make acceptable maple syrup it is extremely important to have the thermometers, hydrometers and hydrotherms in perfect
condition. Sounds simple enough, but one thing that can make the instruments inaccurate is the build up of sugar sand or
niter that can accumulate on the surface when not washed off after each use. This build up will make the instrument inaccurate.
A container of distilled or RO water will keep the surface clean. Immerse the instrument in this water after each use and wipe clean with a soft cloth.
Remember - clean instruments will give you the perfect syrup. With dirty instruments: you are guessing.
Probably the biggest reason for the loss of grade in maple syrup is the warming of fresh sap. If sap cannot be processed within
12-24 hours after a run, the syrup will be darker. Collecting cool or cold sap is probably the best thing that can be done.
Quick processing is best. Main lines can be painted white, or white lines can be used. Some means of cooling incoming sap may
be worthwhile. Buried main or supply lines will help.
Some producers do not sorry about making dark syrup as their market is based on lower grades of syrup.
It is best to make all the light syrup that you can because Mother Nature will surely give you the chance to make dark.