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Sugaring Process:

The maple tree will run sap, a liquid carrying approximately two percent sugar from early March to mid-April every year.  The sap is used to feed the buds that will become leaves and start the process of photosynthesis again.

The sap runs up the tree whenever the daytime temperature goes above freezing. When the temperature goes below freezing the sap is forced back down into the tree roots. A cycle of warm days and cold nights enables the sap to be collected and processed into maple syrup.

A healthy maple tree above ten inches in diameter at breast height with a solid crown (top portion of tree) can be tapped without any harm to the tree.  One tap hole per tree per season is healthiest but trees with diameters larger than eighteen inches can take two taps safely.

The process of collecting and processing the sap can vary widely from a simple system of hanging buckets to collect the dripping sap and boiling in a pan on an open fire; to an elaborate system of tubing with vacumn lines and pumps, reverse osmosis and fancy evaporators.

It takes on average about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. An average maple tree will produce less than a gallon of sap per day unaided into a bucket. The amount of time, labor and energy required to make maple syrup is considerable.

An average maple tree will run less than a gallon of sap a day unaided into a bucket.

The amount of time and energy it takes to collect enough sap and boil off one gallon of syrup is extreme.

At Bowley Brook:

We currently tap Hurricane Mountain which is three miles from the sap house.

The tap hole is 9/64th of an inch in diameter and is drilled about 3/4 of an inch deep. Bowley Brook Tap

Each tree is connected by a "drop line" which connects the tree tap to a 5/16th inch lateral line. The lateral lines are in turn connected to one inch lines throughout the "sugar bush". Each lateral line has 3 to 6 taps. Each one inch line has no more than 250 taps, most have less.

The one inch lines run down hill and are connected to an inch and a half main line.

The inch and one half main line carries the sap down the mountain to a pump station located one half mile from the sap house. The sap is collected in a stainless steel tank in the pump house from which it is pumped under ground the remaining distance to the holding tanks in the tank house located directly behind the sap house. Pumping under ground pushes the sap over a hill located between the pump station and the sap house and provides the added benefit of cooling the sap down from the mid 40's to mid-30 degrees.

The tank house is a concrete bunker built into the hill to keep the house and sap cool. It contains two 2400 hundred gallon stainless steel tanks which hold the sap until it is processed through the Reverse Osmosis Machine.

The Reverse Osmosis Machine (RO) seperates the sugar from the water by forcing the sap under high pressure through a filter or membrane. The membrane traps the sugar on one side but allows the water to pass thru. This is the same process used on cruise ships to seperate salt from water to make drinking water. This process removes about sixty percent of the water from the sap, providing a huge energy savings.

The concentrate (the sap after RO processing) is pumped into a stainless steel tank that feeds the boiler/evaporator.

The evaporator is four feet wide by 15 feet long. It is wood fired and uses forced air and the process of gasification to make it extremely efficient. The evaporator contains four pans.

The back pan is four by eight and contains raised flues which are slots that allow the firebox flame to rise up into the pan bottom. The flues give the pan considerable surface area thereby speeding up the heating process. Most of the evaporation takes place in this pan. The back pan is divided into two channels. The sap concentrate enters at the back of the first channel and travels to the front where it crosses over and comes up the second channel to the back before returning to the front and entering the back of the three finishing pans.

The three front finishing pans also have two channels each and the sap flows through each channel where it thickens and is eventually drawn off as maple syrup.

The channels allow raw sap to be processed in the back while maple syrup is made in the front. A convection current pulled by the difference in sap density allows this process to occur. Maple syrup is super-saturated and ultimately is made by simply removing water.

Maple syrup is made by just removing water.

Once the syrup is drawn off it is run through a filter press before being bottled or put into barrels.

420 Masterman Neighborhood Road Weld, ME 04285
ph. 207.491.1660 | john@bowleybrook.com