Maple syrup production - anyone have a good setup?

mikeathens Posted By mikeathens, Mar 12, 2007 at 8:15 PM

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  1. mikeathens

    New Member 2.

    Jan 25, 2007
    Athens, Ohio
    I saw this one from last year, but no one really went into detail about what they use and efficiency of their methods:

    I have about 15 good sized trees behind my house, but only tapped four of them this year. Toddlers tend to prevent you from spending your weekends intoxicated from drinking a case of beer while watching sap boil...

    I have a drum stove kit that I picked up at an auction for $5, and my wife bought me two "full size" steam table trays (about 4 gallons/each) from a local restaurant supply store. I cut the top out of the drum and set the two trays in the opening. I placed a few concrete landscape/retaining wall pieces in the bottom of the stove to keep the fire under the pans, then just keep wood loaded in the evaporator. I gathered clean 2X4 scrap, powder-post beetle infested barn siding, broken pine picnic tables, etc. that I scrounged from the barns, along with some nice dry slabs from the local mill. The set up is in an old cattle/sheep shelter. I boiled down 35 gallons in about 6 hours, leaving me with about 3/4 gallon of syrup. I expect to have another 40 gallons or so of sap this next weekend.

    Anyone else cookin' down maple sap? Have you found any tricks/efficiency boosters while minimizing costs? I know - why not go buy some at the local store? I enjoy doing this sort of thing on my own (including soap, beer, making my own interior trim, raising chickens/eggs, etc.). I figure that this might be something of a "family tradition" that my daughter and I can look back on when she gets older.

    I have some pictures of my rig that I will post here in a day or the mean time, I'm interested to hear others' experiences.
  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson
    Mod Emeritus 2.

    Nov 18, 2005
    Central NYS
    It's a great hobby, Mike, especially if you have the trees. But like all hobbies, it can get expensive. Lots of fancy stainless steel gear to buy. But boiled down (so to speak) to the basics, there ain't that much to it. If you get into it, check around with some local dairy farmers for old milk equipment (tanks, piping, etc.) It's all stainless and often available for pennies on the dollar.
  3. Harley

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Apr 11, 2006
    Ashfield, MA
    Sorry to go off topic so fast, and Mike I know you are too far for this to help you, but if anyone here wants some 250 gallon plastic totes (they are plastic, approximately 4'X4'X4' square, witha a metal cage around them for strength and forklift moving). They seem to work well to collect sap. I've got plenty for the taking.
  4. stilesec

    New Member 2.

    Mar 7, 2007
    I have a similar setup Mike. I had trouble keeping the entire 5' length firing evenly and thereby keeping a constant rolling boil. 2 things I do are:

    1. I put a box fan in front of the opening in the half barrel. My fire stays very hot and I never lose my boil. The water evaporates much faster, then again so does my wood.

    2. I have a 2' pan and a 3' pan. I put all the new cold sap into the 2' pan and use a small siphon tube to feed hot sap into the 3' pan.

    We'll never make sap as fast as a regular evaporator but these 2 things seemed to lower my burning time by a couple of hours/night.

  5. keyman512us

    Member 2.

    Feb 27, 2007
    North Worc. CTY MA
    Harley? How many you got? How many can you get? And what kinda "coin" are we talking? Whereabouts in western mass are you? (pm me let's talk)
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