Little Creek Maple Farm

Our adventures around the homestead.

Sugaring 2014 – Our New Filter Press

Daryl Sheets Filter Press

The couple of warm days here this week have really started to get the family anxious.  With the warmer weather and some of the snow staring to melt, we know it won’t be long before its time to start tapping.  We are entering our third season of sugaring, and are looking to further streamline the process.

The first year we started sugaring (2012) our biggest hurdle was boiling all of the sap we collected.  That was slow going on the BBQ grill!  So last year (2013) we decided to invest in a wood fired evaporator, knowing that we were going to get up to 40 or so trees.  Everything thing worked great and we were able to boil off all the sap collected at a much better evaporation rate, but we had one catch.  We had our toughest time filtering our syrup.  We ended up with some great clear batches and other batches that ended up with so much sugar sand in them that we kept those for ourselves or maple nuts.  Not wanting to end up with that much syrup on hand again, we decided that we needed to go hardcore on the filtering.  I saved up all year and decided to invest in this shiny contraption.

The above photo is of a 5” maple syrup filter press made by Daryl Sheets in Pennsylvania.  This contraption should hopefully take our filtering to the next level and give us crystal clear syrup for our 2014 Maple Sugaring Season.  Now all I need to do is get some food grade hoses for the inlet and outlet, a stainless steel nipple for the outlet as well, and a new stainless steel pot and we should be in business.  Like everything else maple, I am sure there will be a learning curve on the whole filtering process.  There is a lot of information out there for the small sugaring operations, but I have found that until you actually try something in the field and make a mess, you never know what is going to work.

After consulting my records for the last two years, it likes like the sap really did not start to run until Valentines Day, so another two weeks before we get tapped in New Hampshire.  This may change depending on weather…

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February 2, 2014 - Posted by | Sugaring | , , , , ,

12 Comments »

  1. I know all about ‘field testing.’ Looking forward to hearing that it worked very well and your maple syrup is clear and sweet!

    Comment by solarbeez | February 3, 2014 | Reply

    • I bet, do you filter your honey at all? If so what are you doing to filter it?

      Comment by billcarpenter4 | February 3, 2014 | Reply

      • I got a little honey last year. Filtered through a paint filter. I’m not sure what size hole, but it’s one that all the hardware stores carry. I just use room heat to let it flow.
        Did you see this? http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/01/23/new-discovery-about-maple-trees-could-change-syrup-industry/
        I’m not sure if I’m ready for that.

        Comment by solarbeez | February 4, 2014

      • I did not see that article but just read it now. Dr. Tim Perkins is a regular contributor on the Maple Trader which is a sugaring forum, I follow. Not sure that I am ready to start lopping the crowns of my trees, but it was an interesting read nonetheless.

        I filtered our syrup through some synthetic filters last year using gravity and if there was a lot of sugar sand and if you did not keep the syrup warm it would take a lot of time to filter. I had horrible results on some of the syrup I made so this year we are trying the press! Let’s hope it helps.

        I am curious about filtered and unfiltered honey. I am assuming the stuff at the store is filtered but I have also heard you want unfiltered honey if you are going to use it on burns. Do you have any insight on the filtered -vs- unfiltered for honey?

        Comment by billcarpenter4 | February 9, 2014

  2. I’m guessing you’re making a ‘business’ of sugaring and it’s not just a hobby for your family? Will look forward to hearing about your new equipment and how it streamlines the process for you.

    Comment by Judy @ GrandparentsPlus2 | February 3, 2014 | Reply

    • Thank goodness it’s not a business, or we would be in trouble, HA! It’s still just a hobby for us, I am trying to make it a little more consistent, for our little operation. It was a huge disappointment last year to have like 18 glass bottles of syrup with sugar sand in them, so this year we are going pro on the filtering… As with everything maple I am sure there will be a learning curve and I will keep everyone up to date with our posts.

      Comment by billcarpenter4 | February 3, 2014 | Reply

      • You asked about filtered honey. I think the main issue is, to filter it fast, you’ve got to heat it up to get it to flow. When you start heating it up, it kills the enzymes at somewhere around 104 F. (it might even be lower than that.) I used room temperature when I did it, but I wasn’t filtering much. Ran it through a paint strainer to remove bee parts. We poured some into 1/2 pint jars to give away, but also to feed the bees. Today, it being a warmish day in February, I poured some of that honey onto some old comb, placed the comb in a shallow pan out near the bee hives to give them a little treat. Had quite a few customers!

        Comment by solarbeez | February 9, 2014

      • Interesting, that makes sense about the heating of honey to increase flow, very similar to what we do with syrup.

        Comment by billcarpenter4 | February 10, 2014

      • Just wondering…you said you got a lot of sand in the syrup. How is it that sand gets in it?

        Comment by solarbeez | February 10, 2014

      • The sugar sand or niter is an accumulation of minerals in the sap that accumulates as the sap is boiled down to create syrup. Depending on the sugar content of the sap it takes 40+/- gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. The sugar sand is not harmful but it is unsightly when bottling the syrup in glass bottles.

        Comment by billcarpenter4 | February 10, 2014

  3. Bill,
    I had the same problem last year with niter and I was using one of those large felt filters that cost about 30 bucks. I’m really curious how much your press cost, most of the ones I’ve come across were out of my range at around 2k. You have some great information here, I’m hoping to run a few lines on my property based on your pictures. I have a lot of maples up on hills and a lot of snow so using gravity to help gather the sap makes a lot of sense as opposed to trudging up and down with buckets. Best of luck this season!

    Comment by William Andrews | February 28, 2014 | Reply

    • Yeah last year was miserable for the niter. We were using a combination of the synthetic felt filters and pre-filters and just could not be consistent with gravity. The press is made by Daryl Sheets and he is out of Western, PA. It is still a pretty big investment at just over $800, but this is something we intend to do over a long time, so hopefully it will give us the results we are looking for with only a little more effort. Like with everything maple there is a learning curve and figuring out just how to set it up for our 40-50 maple operation will probably take a year or two to get the kinks out. This year it was brutal trudging though the deep snow, but having the lines strung already made the tapping process much quicker this year. I did have one line that came down as a result of a heavy branch dropping on it, but the tubing is pretty strong. Glad the information is helpful. It helps me going back to see the history of what we did the past years. Good luck on your sugar season as well!

      Comment by billcarpenter4 | March 1, 2014 | Reply


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