One of the most enjoyable and fascinating tasks at the Flying J Farm is producing maple syrup. It is done at the time of year, February and March in Ohio when everyone is depressed over the long winter than seems never to go away. Yet, it is when the sweetest product of the farm is made. When the temperature warms above freezing excitement soars in anticipation of the sap flow. To get a sap flow the temperature must freeze at night and thaw (well above 40 feg F). In these conditions a single tap can fill a five-gallon bucket in 24 hours.
Until this year we always tapped the trees and let the sap flow into buckets on the ground. This year we discovered that we could tap several trees and let the sap flow down tubing to a 45-gal barrel at the end of the line. This worked very well especially because the tractor shown could haul four barrels at a time. This made gather the sap a very easy task.
In the sugar shack we have a reverse osmosis filter that takes about 1/3 of the water out of the sap before it goes to the evaporator where it is boiled down until it is syrup. Sap starts out at about 1.7 percent sugar. At the end of the process it needs to be 66 percent sugar. The whole process involves removing the water out of the sap. A rough tester is a thermometer. When the boiling point increases by 4 deg C from the boiling point of water it is finished syrup.
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FLYING J FARM