The sweet stuff is flowing. Maple Syrup season is upon us. (a sure sign of the end Winter). The sap that has been frozen inside the trees all winter is now being released and will be turned into Maple Syrup to go with you pancakes.
I recently had the opportunity to visit our local sugarhouse in North Woodstock. Fadden's Suagrhouse is an award winning Maple Syrup producer. In January they won the award for best Maple Syrup in 2007 in New Hampshire. Fadden's has been producing Maple Syrup since the 1800's but only since the 1930's have they been doing it to the public. The Fadden family has a long proud history in the town of North Woodstock having settled there before it was officially a town.
In the above picture you can see a drop of raw Maple Sap. This is one drop and it takes 64,000 of these drops to make 1 gallon of Sap. This is what Jim Fadden uses to determine how the sap is running for the day. The tap is located right outside of his Sugar House and saves him a trip into the woods to his sugar bush. The picture also shows the old-fashioned way syrup used to be collected.
Today they use plastic taps and tubing. Fadden's has about 6,000 taps and about 12 miles of tubing which connect to pipes that guide the sap into holding tanks. A typical tree will produce about 1-1.5 gallons of sap per day. Ideal weather conditions are mild days with temperatures in the upper 30's or low 40's to help thaw the sap and then cold nights with temperatures falling into the teens to freeze the sap. Out of the 6,000 gallons he will collect in one day he will only generate about 120 gallons of Maple Syrup. It takes about 50 gallons of raw syrup to boil down to 1 gallon of Maple Syrup.
The sap is collected at a central location. It is then pumped into the back of a truck and brought back to the Sugarhouse. From here is t is put into a holding tank where it will then start the process to make Maple Syrup.
The quicker the syrup is sent to the evaporator the better tasting the syrup will be. Fadden's sugar house is a modern day producer. The next step is to send the syrup into the reverse osmosis filtering system where 70% of the water is removed from the sap. The discarded water is put into tanks to save for later when they clean the lines.
If you have had bottled water or have heard of reverse osmosis, usually the discarded product is undesirable, however in the sugaring, the discarded product is exactly what they want. The water is removed like normal, but the "dirt" is the sap that they need.
The sap is then put into another holding tank before it is sent into the evaporator where it is boiled down to syrup. I was able to sample some of the fresh made product and mmm it was sweet.
The sap is brought to a boil of about 219 degrees before it finally filtered one last time to be bottled. The process take s a little while to complete. They can boil about 1000 gallons of sap per hour.
If your in the area stop by Peg's Restaurant and enjoy some of Fadden Maple Syrup or look for them online at http://www.nhmaplesyrup.com/default.htm