Syrup Hydrometer

On Sunday I broke out the syrup Hydrometer.

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It has two red lines marking the desired density for the syrup. Since mine is so watery right now both  of the marks are covered as the hydrometer can’t float at all. The color looks good and it is increasingly sweet.

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But I have a lot more water to boil off. I have too keep a close eye on it as it is more likely to boil over the denser it is. It behaves a lot like milk with big foamy bubbles that try to climb out of the pot. At the Syrup workshop the teacher said the simple way to keep that fro happening was to hang a piece of bacon in it as the grease melts on contact and breaks the surface tension. Haven’t done that yet but I did add some grease.

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The End of Sap Season

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I might be the only one at work unhappy about this forecast. It really doesn’t look good for sap production hence forth. It is just too warm. Didn’t get nearly as much sap as I was hoping for, but then I came into the season pretty late. The original goal of testing the end product shouldn’t be a problem and I will get to use my syrup hydrometer soon. There is always a silver lining even if the clouds aren’t coming until the weekend.

 

Syrup Hydrometer

It finally arrived! Mind the delay is because I forgot to order it not any loitering in shipping.

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I haven’t used it yet as I haven’t been able to boil down the sap much for the last 2 times as it has been windy and it keeps blowing out the propane. However, I am really looking forward to breaking it out and finding out how close to syrup I am.

Whiplash Weather

So today we are having highs near 70. Tomorrow we are having snow. This is the 3rd major seasonal reversal since I started watching the temperatures for my sap. I have no idea what kind of impact this is going to have on the trees. I hope it will lengthen the season as the trees have to continue to draw up more nutrition the longer the buds get delayed.

However I could easily be wrong. I’m pretty sure I was about 3 weeks late on the tapping season. But we shall see. If nothing else I am learning a good deal and should produce enough to taste test. Besides I found a useful supplier in Leader Evaporators which will probably save a ton of effort next year.

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One of the mixed blessing on the farm is the wildlife. On the one hand I have wasps and flies in my room until the bats in the attic get served an eviction notice. On the other we have lots of deer and some beautiful birds. This morning I spotted this red and blue bird on the phone wires outside my window. After nearly stepping on a wasp. That would have been leaping into action. I’m so happy I missed him.

To Tap a Tree: 4

Mounting the jug/bucket is a bit tricky. Particularly if there are thorn bushes growing around your tree. First you hang the bucket directly on the tap from the hole you made in the jug. Next, to secure it, run the cord through the handle and around the tree. It has to be tight enough that it will not fall. Do not knot the cord as you will be rehanging it every few days.

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Double tapping is the dame thing x2. You can put taps 4 inches apart. However for a longer season you want to place your taps on opposite ends of the tree.double tap.JPG

And so our grand experiment begins. The weather this week looks perfect so hopefully it will go well.

To Tap a Tree: 3

Inserting the spout is very simple. Stick it in so it points down and pull out the hammer. The spout only needs a couple taps with the hammer and you can hear when you have it placed right. It doesn’t get hammered in all the way like a nail. Tap it with the hammer until the pitch of the strike rises about an octave. Tap, Tap, Ping!

I found that 3 strikes was sufficient for all my taps.

By far the easiest part of the tapping process.

To Tap a Tree: 2

The first thing to do when you get to your tree is measure for the diameter so you know how many taps you can place.

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By doing so I found that both of my trees have a diameter sufficient for double tapping. Since I only have 3 taps it doesn’t really matter this year. However, it can save a lot of effort consolidating taps to trees.

Having done that it is time to select the spot to drill. You want to fond a patch of tree that is easy to reach and looks healthy. There is no point drilling into a gnarly patch as it is all dead wood underneath.

Drill at a slight incline and be careful to hold the drill steady so the hole is smooth. To get the right depth, watch the wood on the bit. Sap wood is a bright white. Core wood is much darker. Stop when you get to the core wood or a hole 2-3 inches deep.

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DO NOT REVERSE THE DRILL ACTION WHEN REMOVING IT. You want to clean the hole as much as possible so draw the drill out slowly.

Best Laid Plans

I got up early today to drill the holes in the black walnut trees. I have everything I need the 1/4 in bit, a battery operated drill, an equal number of milk jugs and taps, and sturdy cord (in my case yarn, I have lots of yarn).

However my glorious plans were foiled by the drill. You see I have the correct bit. I just can’t get it into the drill. The drill is determined to remain a Phillip forever! Gave it to Daddy to work on. But so far the trick that works for pickle jars is not having much success with the drill.

Syrup Buckets

Syrup production seems to be one of those thing that you can spend a fortune on equipment. Or you can not. The teacher at our workshop has been using milkjugs for years. It is a simple recycle and just requires some cleaning and planning.

Anything you use for syrup should be washed in a bleach solution and triple rinsed. This is very important becase sugars and ideal for bacterial growth which can infect the tree and product.

Once you’ve cleaned the jug. Put a tap sized hole on one of the sides that is not adjacent to the handle. Keep the hole level as possible and near the top to use as much volume in the container as possible. I made my hole pointed at the top to encourage the jug to hang straight.

Save the lids to help seal the container.