Maple Sugaring

Evaporator #2

     It seems the most difficult part of any job is the initial momentum to get started. You can research yourself to death without any motion but that is futile. We have a plethora of sugar maples, want to supplement the farm income, so what’s the holdup? Do we use buckets or tubes, big taps or little taps, commercial evaporator or home brew?  This reasoning can go on and on. Joel Salatin says “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly, first.” The fact is, we don’t do anything well at first. When the task is daunting, look in the mirror, hike up your diaper, and say “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly, first.” So we visit a sugar house, gather ideas, see how they do it and then purchase enough to place 60 taps, drill the trees, lay the lines, stick them in a collection tank and see what happens.
     After a failed search for a stainless steel commercial evaporator our good friend, Ben Plummer, built us one out of a 275 gallon heating oil container and a stainless steel pan. It has taken several boils to get the hang of it. Our first experience was with a used 4 X 12 leader evaporator (picture at bottom of page) made out of English Tin which we purchased for $200. We were not too thrilled to use it as lead solder is involved but heard that it is not a problem when done correctly. We got the thing heated and dumped 65 gallons of sap into it which boiled away in less that an hour. We then were stuck with a hot pan and no way to cool the flames. Needless to say our sap turned to charcoal and the pans were destroyed. That took care of our lead concerns.
     It spite of our failures and trepidations we are now sitting on about 7 gallons of delicious syrup and are far wiser about this then we began. Mission accomplished.