In a good year, one large tree may pour out as much as 60 gallons of sap without suffering any injury. It seems like a lot, until you realize that the sap will be reduced to about one and a half gallons of syrup.
Once it flows from the tree, the sap must be processed within a few hours or it will spoil, so syrup makers work round the clock once the spring run has started.
Much of the sap is still gathered the old-fashioned way, in buckets hung from trees, and boiled down to syrup over wood fires. Some of the larger producers have adopted labor-saving modern technology. They gather the sap with plastic tubing strung all the way from the trees to the sugar house.
From holding tanks which may hold as much as a thousand gallons, the freshly-collected sap, usually about three percent sugar, is fed continuously into the evaporator. There it is kept constantly boiling, throwing off dense clouds of steam as it becomes more and more concentrated. When the syrup reaches a temperature of seven degrees above the boiling point of water, the syrup maker knows the sugar-density is just right. Immediately, the finished syrup is filtered to remove particles of “sugar sand.” These, though harmless, would turn the syrup cloudy. Once properly clear, the finished syrup is packed in sterilized containers and sealed, ready to be distributed and enjoyed around the world.
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