Maple Valley Harvest Season
The 2015 organic Maple Syrup season for our Midwest Co-op farmers lasted from early March through the end of April--a long, delicious harvest!
Here's a quick scoop on what a maple season looks like on a Maple Valley farm.
Maple Valley Co-op Sap Tapping
As spring approaches and the days become warmer, maple trees move out of winter hibernation. When temperatures move above 40 degrees during the day, the trees begin to send sap -- life water composed of sugars stored in their roots -- up into their branches. When it drops below freezing at night, the sap flows back down toward the roots. When the sap flows, farmers tap!
During the day maple farmers drill a hole in the trunk and lightly tap in a plastic or steel tap, which diverts some of the maple sap out of the tree into a collection system. Some maple farmers use traditional methods to collect sap with buckets or bags. More modern methods employ plastic tubing strung between the trees, where the sap flows downhill through the tubing into a central collection stainless steel tank.
Once farmers collect the sap, they walk, truck or pump it back to their sugar shack where it's processed. It usually takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup! Most of Maple Valley's farmers use reverse osmosis systems to remove excess water in the sap, prior to boiling it in an evaporator. These osmosis systems create efficiency and reduce energy needed for evaporators. Defoaming agents reduce foaming when the sap boils. Maple Valley co-op farmers use a minimal amount of organic vegetable oil as a defoamer (instead of organic butter, a chemical defoamer, non-organic oil, butter or animal fat.)
When the sap reaches an approximate 66% sugar and 34% water mark, it's filtered and hot packed into 40 or 55 gallon drums and eventually shipped to our co-op commercial kitchen facility, which is both organic and kosher certified. Maple Valley's artisan bottler then blends the re-inspected barrels to the finest color, flavor, and brix level. Bottles and other containers are commercially hot packed and labeled for long term safe maple storage.