The Maple Sugar Book

"A complete syrup and sugar maker comprises in himself a woodcutter, a forester, a botanist, an ecologist, a meteorologist, an agronomist, a chemist, a cook, an economist, and a merchant.  Sugaring is an art, an education, and a maintenance."


Helen and Scott Nearing
The Maple Sugar Book, 1950

Threats to Maple Trees

The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is an invasive insect that feeds on certain species of hardwood trees, eventually killing them. The ALB especially likes maple tree.  The ALB most likely came to the United States inside wood packing material from Asia. Since it was first discovered in Brooklyn, New York in 1996, the beetle has caused tens of thousands of trees to be destroyed in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. If the ALB were to become established here, it could become one of the most destructive and costly pests ever to enter the United States. If we don’t find and stop the ALB, we’ll lose more than trees. We’ll lose industries worth billions of dollars – and wildlife habitats too. Our yards and neighborhoods will take decades to recover.

Read More at Beetle Busters

Over Half Way By Sap Volume PDF Print
Sunday, 24 March 2019 18:56

30 overnight.  42 during the day.  Mostly cloudy until late afternoon when the sun appeared.  Then a cold northeast wind came up.


Checked the trees at Noon.  Good amount of sap in the buckets.  Trees dripped into late night before temperature dipped below freezing.  The sap run that started yesterday was coming to an end.  Tree pressure dropped to 4 PSI.  We started collecting an hour earlier at 2:00 PM.  We usually start at 3:00 PM.  By 4:30 we were done.  Picked up 475 gallons.


Based on sap volume collected so far, we are over half way of an average season.  Collected 1960 gallons of sap so far.  For an average season we would collect about 3200 gallons of sap.


Forecast for mid 20s tonight.  That’s a good for keeping the sap flowing.

Bottling Day PDF Print
Saturday, 23 March 2019 17:04
20 overnight.  43 and sunny today.  Above 32 by 9:30 AM.  Trees started dripping.  By Noon, dripping at a good rate with PSI up to 15.  We will wait to collect until tomorrow to catch the complete run.
Into the woods by 8:00 AM to empty a milk can into the finishing pan.  It was ready by 9:30 AM.  Filtered and started bottling.  But didn’t watch temperature carefully and the syrup got too hot and precipitated out particles making it cloudy.  We were about half done.  Stopped bottling this batch.    Back into the finishing pan along with half of milk can of syrup to finish and filter again.  Every year we seem to mess up a batch.  The syrup is good, its just more work to cut back density with sap, re-finish and re-filter.   We only bottled 1 ½ milk cans.  The plan was to bottle two milk cans.
The trees will drip into the late evening.  Forecast low is 30.
Back to the farmhouse by 3:00 PM.
Bottling And Cooking PDF Print
Friday, 22 March 2019 18:12

34 on the thermometer at 4:30 AM.  But the it froze at some point overnight because the snow was crunchy and the puddles had ice.  Up to 40.  Cloudy until 1:30 PM.  Cold north wind.  Trees are not responding.


Into the woods by 8:00 AM to start the fishing pan.  Bottled at 10:00 AM.  Done by 11:00 AM.  Started the evaporator to cook yesterday’s 200 gallons.  Finished by 3:30 PM.  Four batches into the milk can.


The R/O makes it possible to bottle first then start cooking at 11:00 AM and still be done by 3:30 PM and to the farmhouse by 4:00 PM.


Waiting for another good freeze so we get another sap run.

Picked Up The Tail End Of The Big Run PDF Print
Thursday, 21 March 2019 18:20

34/45 today.  Started out cloudy.  Around 1:00 PM the clouds broke and the sun appeared.  Bottling plans fell through when we got sick this morning.   Recovering now, but taking it easy.


Crew when out collecting at 3:00 PM.  Picked up 200 gallons.  This was the tail end of the Monday/Tuesday run.  There was no new sap today.

Done Cooking PDF Print
Wednesday, 20 March 2019 18:40

30 overnight.  Cloudy and 38 during the day.  A little drizzle.  Into the woods by 6:00 AM to start cooking.  R/O going by 7:00 AM.  Went to 7° Brix.


Several interruptions during the day with visitors caused us to miss starting/stopping pumps or opening/closing valves.  We missed starting the transfer pump to empty the collecting tank into the storage tank.  By 10:00 AM the R/O stopped because it was out of sap.  We took the opportunity to run a rinse cycle before starting again. Then we missed closing the permeate value to the water storage tank.  This caused some sap  to back flow into it.  When visitor come we stop to talk with them, but it breaks our concatenation and routine causing us to miss a step in our process.


10 batches of syrup in the milk cans.  Filled two milk cans.  We had very good boils.  By 5:30 PM we were done.  Tomorrow we have to bottle again.

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2019 Season @ A Glance

Mar 9    135
Mar 9    100
Mar 9    100
Mar 9    100
Mar 9     65
Mar 12     3
Total     503

Tree Pressure
Mar 12   20 PSI
Mar 13     5 PSI
Mar 14     2 PSI
Mar 15     2 PSI
Mar 16   13 PSI
Mar 17   15 PSI
Mar 18   15 PSI
Mar 19   13 PSI
Mar 20     1 PSI
Mar 21     1 PSI
Mar 22     1 PSI
Mar 23   15 PSI
Mar 24    4 PSI

Sap        Gal   Brix
Mar 14    375   2.5
Mar 17    410   2.5
Mar 19    700   2.5
Mar 21    200   2.0
Mar 24    475   2.0

Bottled  Qt   Pt   500   250
Mar 19    26    2
Mar 22    28    3
Mar 23    12    2             1
Mar 23    31    6     2      1

2018 Season @ A Glance

Feb 22     200
Feb 23     100
Feb 24     209
Total        511


Sap        Gal   Brix
Feb 26   435   2.25
Mar 03   400   2.00
Mar 05   255   2.50
Mar 12   400   3.00
Mar 15   440   2.25
Mar 18   505   2.00
Mar 23   325   2.50
Mar 25   400   2.00
Mar 27   415   2.00
Mar 29   200   2.00
Mar 31   165   2.00
Apr   6     25   3.00
Total :    3965


Bottled  Qt  Pt  500  250
Mar 10    25   3
Mar 10    15  16
Mar 10    19                2
Mar 11    20   1    2     1
Mar 17    24   14  2     2
Mar 21    37    2
Mar 22    38
Mar 27    28
Mar 27      2   1
Mar 27   25    12
Mar 29   24    10
Mar 31   24    14
Apr   7   27      2   6
Apr   7   17    12  10   1
Apr  10  23     1

Total:  101 gal

In Memoriam

Ned T. Zander died Wednesday, June 1, 2011 in the home where he was born, lived, and passed. He was surrounded and comforted by his loving family.

Ned was a Maple Syrup producer. His parents introduced him to Maple Syrup making. He made Maple Syrup all his life.  First with his parents, then with brother, Paul Zander, and later with help from family and friends. He was a member of the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association. In recent years he enjoyed attending the annual meeting of the North American Maple Syrup Council in various US states and Canadian provinces where he could talk about maple syrup 24 hours a day.  In October 2006 during the North American Maple Syrup Council annual meeting the participants toured his humble sugarbush.  Ned was thrilled to show his small operation to large producers from Vermont, Maine, New York and Quebec.

Ned was also an avid woodsman. Over the course of his life he cut and split approximately 700 cords of firewood for heating his home, cooking maple syrup or selling. He also made logs from his woods that he sold to Algoma Lumber Company.

We plan to continue making Maple Syrup not only to honor Ned, but also because we like doing it.

Old Maple Syrup makers never die, they just evaporate.