Author Topic: Hunters Bush Maple  (Read 1386 times)

Ian Watson

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Hunters Bush Maple
« on: March 09, 2023, 03:52:31 »
Today we had the pleasure and the privilege to visit a farm that produces maple syrup. It is currently the season for sap to rise in sugar maple trees and so it is the time when these trees are tapped.

In the first photograph we meet Laura. She is of the fourth generation to produce maple syrup on this farm. She conducts tours during this season to explain how maple syrup is produced.

We begin with a discussion of when trees are old enough to tap. Forty years is usual, but how do we know their age? Cutting them down to count the rings is not exactly an option ;D Well, the rule-of-thumb is to stand against the tree and wrap an arm around it. If one can touch one's other shoulder then the tree is too young.

Once upon a time, buckets collected the sap. These days lines transport the sap from individual trees to "main lines" under gravity. The latter feed to a tank with a little help from a vacuum pump.

Ian Watson

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Re: Hunters Bush Maple
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2023, 03:58:31 »
We are now in the pump house. All the sap accumulates here. It passes through a simple filter before accumulating in the big tank. When the tank is full enough the load is pumped straight to the sugar house for processing. This happens approximately every three minutes!

Ian Watson

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Re: Hunters Bush Maple
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2023, 04:09:42 »
The trees heal from being tapped. Much like we do from a deep cut. The result is an area around an old tap, perhaps an inch or so across, that is like a scar. It is not suitable for a new tap. Here is Laura pointing to some on an old tree.

Ian Watson

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Re: Hunters Bush Maple
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2023, 04:14:34 »
The local wildlife likes to chew on the lines. In particular, squirrels, coyotes and deer. So the lines need to be inspected and repaired. Here we see some lines kept to demonstrate the damage (not easily seen in these photographs, granted) and some antique muskrat traps.

Ian Watson

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Re: Hunters Bush Maple
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2023, 04:28:08 »
The sap contains 2% sugar. When it enters the Sugar House it undergoes reverse osmosis filtration and reaches 10% sugar. The evaporator is like a winding river. The sap is gradually heated as it makes its was to the hot end where it is evaporated to 66%. Much weaker and it ferments. Much stronger and the result is crystals in the bottles.

The grade of maple syrup has nothing to do with the evaporation. If certain bacteria have the chance to work then they convert the initial sugars into other sugars. This results in the different grades, or opacity, of maple syrup.

The penultimate photograph here shows samples from the entire production from 2022.

Ian Watson

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Re: Hunters Bush Maple
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2023, 04:44:37 »
The evaporator is like a winding river of maple sap. It winds closer and closer to the heat. Laura's husband keeps a close eye on the final product and adjusts the equipment accordingly. The fire is fed every seven minutes to keep things consistent. Laura's husband is helped by her father. The latter asked, "Would you like to photograph the fire? Be quick!" It was hot enough that I checked the front of my lens for damage!

Øivind Tøien

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Re: Hunters Bush Maple
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2023, 06:29:01 »

Very interesting reportage, thanks for posting. We have some birch sirup production areas in Fairbanks, quite extensive systems, covering a whole hillside, but I have only seen the outside collection systems.
Øivind Tøien

John Geerts

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Re: Hunters Bush Maple
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2023, 07:43:56 »
Very interesting photo documentary Ian, nicely built-up  ! 

Thomas Stellwag

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Re: Hunters Bush Maple
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2023, 10:46:50 »
great story about a product I knew, but never cared how it was treated before consumtion.
I like your unobstrusive reporting 
Thomas Stellwag

Erik Lund

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Re: Hunters Bush Maple
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2023, 11:13:57 »
Thanks! Very nice images/series ;)
Erik Lund

ColinM

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Re: Hunters Bush Maple
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2023, 12:03:06 »
What a super series of photos and background story.
I love maple syrup but bet I've never tasted anything like this stuff.

I've also tried tapping birch trees for sap (the raw sap had a really subtle taste - almost no taste)
After a lot of effort, I then found a place in London selling cans of Birch sap, so guess its a big commercial operation somewhere.

Fons Baerken

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Re: Hunters Bush Maple
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2023, 12:13:18 »
Great story and pictures, Ian thanks for showing!

Akira

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Re: Hunters Bush Maple
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2023, 12:39:04 »
Ian, thank you for sharing an interesting experience.

I do like the flavor of sugar maple, but the species is more familiar to me as one of the most popular material for the necks of various string instruments, from violins, mandolins to electric guitars (also called Hard Maple).
"The eye is blind if the mind is absent." - Confucius

"Limitation is inspiration." - Akira

Lars Hansen

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Re: Hunters Bush Maple
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2023, 12:57:19 »
Ian, thanks for sharing that interesting story and great photos.   

golunvolo

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Re: Hunters Bush Maple
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2023, 13:27:23 »
Thank you Ian, endearing images and interesting story.

   Thanks for sharing it!