Todd and I went out to boil at the Lohman's on Saturday. We are learning a lot about the equipment we don't have but really do need in order to make this operation more efficient. Discussions are taking place about maple sugaring next year...
At any rate, Todd and I took a full 20-gallon pot of sap and boiled it down to about 8-9 gallons. It was 6pm and time to go so I snagged 5 gallons in the only jug I brought and carried it off home. Today I turned it into sugar. I kept notes on the times today;
9:40AM - Started 2 pans on the oven - these are broad steam-table pans, roughly 14" x 20", and can hold 2 gallons of fluid each. The large surface area helps in speedy evaporation.
10:55AM - 5 gallons has been reduced down to4 gallons.
12:40PM - 4 gallons have been reduced down to 1 gallon, pans are combined.
1:20PM - Syrup is filtered, pan is put into 250 degree oven.
2PM - Syrup still isn't turning to sugar - return to stove for 10 mins, stirring constantly, to boil off more water. Pan is returned to oven
2:30PM - First skim of sugar from pan. As I skim the sugar I let it cool for a few minutes, then pack it into small Gladware containers. Once they fully cool the cakes of sugar pop out easily. I weigh them into 4oz cups on a small portion scale.
2:43PM - Second skim
3:02PM - Third skim, temperature of oven reduced to 225 as the syrup level is dropping
3:13PM - Fourth skim
3:23PM - Pan is pulled from oven, only a small amount of syrup remains. The pan is scraped and the dry sugar mixed up with the small amount of syrup remaining.
3:40PM - all done. Yield from this batch 22oz.
A quick search of the internet showed me that pure maple sugar sells at around$20 per pound, and 4x that for certified organic. Our current holdings are up to 54oz of sugar plus 22oz of syrup. I plan 1 more trip to gather sap (and those supplies I left over at the Lohmans.)