Season Winding Down

Although some sap was collected today the volume was much reduced from earlier in the season . The Monday night through Tuesday big run was a fitting end to what has been a bumper season. Very warm weather is forecast for the rest of the week which will melt the remaining patches of snow and may stimulate the tree buds to swell. At this point the sap begins to change and the syrup made from this sap has an unpleasant taste known in the industry as “buddy syrup”. Sometimes a late snowstorm and cold weather will reset the trees and  one last run of good sap is collected. About 40 years ago a local syrup producer and farmer recalled how one year early April was warm and dry and they were so busy planting crops that they did not remove their buckets. A snowstorm occurred and they were surprised to collect the biggest run of sap all season. Other local producers had collected their buckets and missed this windfall. He was still chuckling when he told me this story. We have not, over the years, experienced anything that dramatic.

Today’s syrup was Very Dark with the characteristic Strong flavour and we have enough to fill our back orders. There may be more this week  which will give us a small reserve .We stop producing at the first hint of “buddy syrup”.And then the washing up begins.

We are still open for pick up outside the camp.

 

A Very Productive Day

The sap tanks were full  this morning as the sap ran most of the night. With today’s sap we processed about 36,000 litres of sap and made about 900 litres of syrup. A long but very satisfying day. The best part is that we made very flavourful Dark syrup which we’ve been waiting for.This will help us get caught up on back orders.

The season is not over yet as there is still some snow in the sugar bush and a good frost tonight. Should be another good day tomorrow.

Call the camp at 613 256 5216 to arrange for pickup outside the camp.

Testing Some Folklore

Since my most recent blog on Thursday the 26th, the sap has continued to flow. Friday was one of those perfect days for sap with frost the night before and plus 7 degrees and lots of sunshine  during the day. Friday night there was a good frost but Saturday was slow to warm up above freezing. However, a low pressure system arrived  late Saturday  and with no frost  the sap ran all night. Today we once again we were in full production..

With the frost on Friday we had a chance to test the idea of partially letting the sap freeze and throwing out the ice as a means of concentrating the sugar in the sap. There are records in the literature of the native people using this technique extensively. On our test pan of sap  ice formed on the surface to a depth of 2 cm or about 20% of the overall depth. We discarded the ice and  then measured the sap sweetness. The raw sap had a sugar content of 2.4% and the sweetened sap after ice removal 3.1% for a 29% improvement. We then froze some sap in our freezer to  50% ice and the sweetness increased to 4.0% or a 58% improvement .In other words nature is acting as a natural way of concentrating sap to save fuel and boiling time, much like our reverse osmosis system. However, there is a law of diminishing returns.The ice from the thin sheet sheet when melted and tested had no detectable sugar content but the ice from the 50% test had about 1% sugar content. As the ice gets thicker some of the sugar is trapped in the ice and if discarded would reduce the quantity of syrup produced. By running more tests the relationships between sweetness, ice formation,. fuel cost and syrup produced could be established. Without doing all that work,  it is safe to say that  throwing away a thin coating of ice on a tank or bucket would be beneficial.

Syrup pick up outside the camp is working well with approved social distancing. This will continue for the time being.

The Sap Keeps Running

The weather, while not ideal for sap production, is favourable and the sap keeps flowing. It is turning our to be a bumper crop but there is some uncertainty in the industry about the market. We continue to stockpile in the hope that Coved-19 will run its course and things will get back to normal.So far the syrup has all been of the lighter grades with very good flavour. Some sunshine and warmer weather should bring on darker syrup.

The  pick up of syrup outside the camp is working well and safe distancing can be maintained.  If  you are planning to do this call ahead to 613 256 5216 so your oder will be ready.

One of our clients called my attention to  an interesting article in the North Grenville Times about the earliest recorded information about maple syrup. Evidently there are records of the native people offering early explorers “a sweet and very pleasant liquor”. There is no mention of maple sugar as experiments have shown that it would have been almost impossible to raise the boiling sap to sugar temperatures in birch bark or clay vessels. It must have been a spring drink as there would have been no way to store the syrup without it going moldy. Later on when iron pots came into use there are reports of the production of large quantities of maple sugar, which can be stored. That still leaves the question in my mind as to how the natives cut enough wood to make all this sugar. Anyone who has made even a small quantity of maple syrup or  sugar on an open kettle cam attest to the amount of wood required.

Closing for Now

Ottawa Valley maple syrup

Click to view our syrup options on the Products page

Due to concern regarding the coronavirus we are closing our sugar camp, store, and buildings to visitors until further notice.

We are enjoying an outstanding production season and we hope you will place orders with us through email at info@fortunefarms.ca.

We will hold your order for you and make arrangements for pick up or delivery as circumstances permit.

While this is disappointing as we enjoy seeing and sharing our farm with visitors each year, our health officials and political leaders are imploring all of us to avoid social contact and stay home.

We will continue to report on the syrup season as usual on this blog.

A Pause in the Action

A bright brisk morning but warming up quickly with above freezing temperatures this afternoon. However it is unlikely that there will be any fresh sap today. It is a good day to be outside and take a walk through the sugar bush. The trails are hard packed and frozen so it is easy walking.

Our camp is open today from 10 to 4 for syrup pick up. Please maintain social distance if there are other people at the camp.

Open Tomorrow

Finally a warm springlike day but back to winter tonight. Great sap weather but we would appreciate a sustained warm spell to get rid  of some of the snow.

We are open tomorrow from 10 t0 4  for syrup pickup outside the camp. If other people are around please wait in turn and maintain social distance,

 

The Hawks Return

Each spring as long as we can remember a pair of red shouldered hawks has nested in our sugar bush. Each year they return in March usually around the 22nd. They were heard calling with their distlnfive shriek, something like a blue jay, on Tuesday this week. So they are back again but earlier than usual. One year we saw them doing their courtship flight and we usually find their nest high in a maple tree decorated with a bit of greenery. They prefer an old growth hardwood forest so a sugar bush is an ideal nesting location. They will be here until late fall and hopefully will have a successful nesting season.

The sap ran again today and as there was no sun and it was on the cool side the sap was crystal clear.  Once agin we made Golden syrup. We may make Dark or Very dark syrup after the forecast warm weather on Friday but more likely later next week.

The Sap Keeps On Running

 

Due to the warm days and cool nights  the sap is continuing to flow. The snow in the sugar bush is  melting very slowly which will prolong the season. We are now making dark  amber syrup with a good rich flavour.. There is  warmer weather in the forecast for Friday so we may make some dark syrup..

We are open for order pickup at the camp. We are following the guidelines for grocery stores as we consider maple syrup a necessary food staple. We may close the sales room and deliver syrup orders outside the building. That way we can maintain reasonable social distance.The trails are open for walking but we are curtailing our show and tell activities.

So far the virus has as yet not been detected in many people in the Ottawa area.So it’s a good idea to pick your syrup if you can before things get worse. We are open daily 10 to 5.

Plan for March 17

We plan to be open for syrup pick up on March 17. We want to limit the number of people in the camp at one time some may ask you to wait outside if we are busy. We  want to follow the guidelines on social distance as best we can and we want to stay open as long as it is permitted;

The sap began to run late this afternoon but has now slowed down. A warm front is moving in so the sap  should be running again by midnight.That means we will be boiling tomorrow.

A walk on the trails in the fresh air is a good way to avoid the virus.

The Kettle Boys have closed for the season and the Shanty Men are on open a day to day basis. Our open hours are 10 t0 5 daily until further notice.