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Thread: Opinions on syrup taste

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Ashtabula County, Ohio
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    Default Opinions on syrup taste

    In light of the recent thread regarding bulk syrup, I would like opinions on whether or not there is a difference in taste between syrup made with buckets/tubing, wood-fired/oil-fired/, ro/non-ro. Here is my opinion based on 10+ years of boiling with every one of these methods.
    Is there a difference in taste between buckets and syrup made with tubing? In my case, my answer is no. I will concede that with tubing I have produced darker syrup, but in my opinion, and the opinion of most of my retail customers, that is a plus.
    Is there a difference between wood fired and oil fired syrup? In my case, absolutely not. The only time I have ever seen a difference in taste is back when I was a kid boiling over an open fire and lots of ashes got into the syrup. This is a huge myth in my opinion.
    Is there a difference in taste between ro'd and non-to'd syrup? In my experience, absolutely not. Now I have never concentrated over 12-14%, so I cannot speak to higher concentrated syrup.
    I also believe that the biggest difference in taste between different producers has to do with soil content, % of sugars and reds, and attention to cleanliness.
    Now I understand that everyone's experience is different, but these are my opinions based on my experience of making syrup with buckets, bags, gravity tubing, tubing on vacuum, non-ro, ro, wood-fired, and oil-fired.
    1000 taps on vacuum back down to 100 buckets
    2x7 A&A Raised Flue
    Leader Micro2 RO (for sale)
    Gast 3040 vac pump, Lapierre electric releaser
    Syrup made 2010:36 gal 2011:126 gal 2012:81 gal 2013:248 gal 2014: 329.5 gal 2015:305 gal 2016:316 gal 2017:258 gal 2018:147 gal 2019:91 gal
    Tapping the same trees my great, great and great grandfathers tapped.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Catskill Mts, Ulster County NY
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    I agree on the open fire boiling. Adds a nice smoky flavor, which is OK when you are 15 yrs old. I've only boiled on wood fires, so no opinion there. My first year was on buckets, and I agree that the syrup was lighter, but I was using buffet pans on a wood stove back then, and never got an aggressive boil. I've been on tubing since then, and also on maple evaporators, and have not made light syrup since. Also this was my first season with RO, and I taste no difference.

    As they say in the vineyard, it's the terroir that makes the flavor. Since we draw our raw ingredient from the same basic elements as the mighty grape, it seems natural that our flavors would reflect our local region. Maybe even more so, because the woods is generally not artificially fertilized. I love the fact that my syrup comes from trees I can see, walk among, touch, and take care of. They grow out of the rocks and swampy soil, same as me.
    Gary
    Zena Crossroads
    42˚ 00' 24" N

    Hobby in Early '70s, Addiction since 2014
    +-150* taps on 3/16 (36 on Lunchbox Vac/Releaser) *more like 130+- for 2019

    12x14 timber framed sap house w/attached 10x14 shed roof for storage w/expansion plans for 2019
    2 x 6 Smoky Lake hybrid pan on home built arch (cast concrete) with AUF/AOF/steam hood/preheater
    5.0 KW Sun Power PV System, Smokey Lake Filter/Steam Bottler, New for 2019 - NGMP 100 gph RO

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Oneida NY
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    According to everything I've read on this subject, I go by the statement that professional taste testers (yes, there are professional taste testers) can not distinguish any difference between RO'd sap and non ro'd sap. However there needs to be some details that must be adhered to. First, the flues pan and syrup pan ratios must be correct for the sugar percentage attained in the RO. If up to 8-10% nothing needs to change, but as the concentration goes up from there the flue pan gets shorter and the syrup pan gets longer. As an extreme example the sugar operation in Eden, Vt goes to about 35% concentrate. There they have 7' x 20 evaporators (yes more than one, 2 now but in a couple of years they will have 4 side by side as they get close to their goal of 200,000 taps.). The flue pan is just the back 4' long, the rest is flat pan to give the syrup enough time to develop the proper flavor.
    Not to any similar scale, back when I had new pans made for my arch, I changed the ratio. My old pans were a 3x2' long syrup pan and a 3' x 6' long flue pan. My new set, (because I was also getting an RO) I had them made as a 3' x 3' syrup pan and a 3' x 5' flue pan
    Last edited by maple flats; 04-28-2019 at 09:03 AM. Reason: typo
    Dave Klish about 1320 taps in '15, doing fewer each year, about 450 planned for 2020 (and after?)
    2012 Mahindra 36 HP 4x4/ loader/cab/heat/AC:-)
    added a gooseneck equipment trailer and F350 to tow it to haul more sap
    3x8 raised flue evaporator
    250 GPH converted to electric, RO by Ray Gingerich
    6.32 KW solar system, 1.48KW is battery backed up, all net metered
    http://s1041.photobucket.com/albums/...anssugarhouse/
    website: www.cnymaple.com

  4. #4
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    Dec 2002
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    Loudon NH
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    I've always been wood fired so I can't compare wood to oil. I have concentrated from 8% to 23% and haven't noticed any negative effect to the flavor as the concentration gets higher. I use air injection and there is no negative effect on flavor from that either. I have noticed that I get lighter syrup with concentration percentages below 15% and darker syrup above that, but no very dark.

    My evaporator is a 2x6 raised flue with 2x2 syrup pan and 2x4 flue pan with 7" flues. I have an AUF/AOF arch under my pans. Most of my taps are red maples, about 90%, on high vacuum. My syrup has a unique taste that many have said is the best they've ever tasted. I give the credit for that to the red maples.
    Russ

    "Red Roof Maples" Where the term "boiling soda" was first introduced to the maple producing world!

    Algier 2x6 evaporator, W F Mason arch
    Lapierre 250 Turbo RO machine
    SP-22 vacuum pump
    1930 Ford Model AA Doodlebug tractor
    1971 IH 454 52hp diesel tractor
    A couple of Honda 4 wheelers
    About a dozen chainsaws and no chickens

  5. #5
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    Mar 2017
    Location
    Vermont
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    I do notice flavor differences from different woods and processes. In fact I find flavor differences from day to day in the same sugar house making the same grade as yesterday. When I say this I'm not making a judgment on RO'd syrup vs. Straight syrup but commenting on the fact that both flavors are good, but both flavors are different.
    2016- 50 buckets. Made 4 gallons
    2017- 100 buckets, 50 taps on 3/4 mainline and 3/16th tubing + shurflo vacuum. Made 30 gallons.
    2018- 1000 taps on 3/16 + vacuum, 60 buckets - made 378 gallons of syrup.
    2019- 1713 taps on 3/16 + vacuum, NO buckets. Made 500 gallons.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    charlton ma
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    This is one of those questions that most everyone has a different opinion on and few like to talk about. I have found that in general sugar makers that I talk to that use RO say that there is not a difference and the ones that do not use RO say there is a difference.

    I have never had a syrup made on an oil fired rig that I liked to much

    syrup through an RO and boiled on wood is usually okay in my experience

    syrup that had been boiled straight up with no RO on wood is what I prefer.

    I sell all my syrup retail and sample at every festival I go to. I have literally sat behind my table and watched well over 10,000 people taste my syrup over about the last 7 years. I know this because 5,000 sample cups come in a case and I have gone through more than 2 cases.

    Many of these customers talk about all there different syrup experiences and taste is always the main talking point. I have found that on average only about 2 or 3 people a year do not like the syrup. These are usually people that have already told me that they do not like syrup and I try to convert them. Most of the time it works but not always.
    Many customers have told me that its the best syrup they ever had.

    It's not just about what fuel used ,oil or wood or RO or not RO. The size of the rig also makes a difference. I have talked to many small produces and the smaller rigs just do not make darker syrup as well as a large one. My rig is 4.5'x 22' it has 2 flue pans the syrup pan is in the middle. I have a parallel flow preheater on it along with another type of preheater which I invented that works great. My evaporator is the only one like it in the world I guarantee. It makes just about the most flavorful syrup a person could make. It also boils faster than any other evaporator for the same size fire box. I e-mailed Dr. Tim about it with out to much detail as I was thinking about a patent but he said he focuses more on sap production than evap design. Right now I just keep it to myself. the design is solid and would work scaled down as well.

    After selling syrup for about 4 years I really wanted to be able to make darker syrup because it sells so much better. I started specifically trying to make darker syrup. One method is batch draw offs. I will usually draw off 9-15 gallons of syrup all at once. I wait until almost my whole syrup pan is syrup. I never clean the syrup pan during the season and I filter the syrup through 2 layers of cotton which works way better than felt filters.

    A lot of people say that syrup is syrup but there are a lot of different methods that effect the taste that seems not to be discussed to much. I believe this is because we all know that sugaring is hard work and every producer is just trying to do there best and make a living for them and there family's. We all want to promote pure maple syrup so putting down anothers syrup would be in poor taste. Seeings how this is a forum for producers ,and consumers do not frequent the site I will say that there is no chance that RO syrup tastes as good as syrup boiled from straight up sap on a wood fired rig.

    Now most producers do not retail all there syrup. If selling bulk there is no reason not to use RO. Plus who has time or energy to cut 35 cord of wood a year just to make 700 gallons of syrup.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    Connecticut
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    Quote Originally Posted by heus View Post
    Tapping the same trees my great, great and great grandfathers tapped.
    That is just some serious stuff. No joke and thanks for your interesting input on a interesting topic !

    I too boiled as a kid in the early 1970's and I don't think it was the ash so much as the fact that the sides of our pans were down in the fire creating a big bad burn line at the top of the sap level in the pan. We had a block arc and a fairly decent brick chimney.

    Today I boil with full size steam pans with the sides kept up out of the fire with angle iron. I move and draw it well and get a very high quality tasting syrup from medium to dark.

    I am curious about what your feeling, ( or anybody else's) is about how "reds" ( I assume you mean Red Maples ) effect the taste or quality of syrup. Negative taste, positive or indifferent?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Bow, NH
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    Hey, anybody who wants to stop by and sample some 2019 sugar maple syrup and some red maple syrup of the same grade, 68% light transmittance, and the same density, let me know.

    And I will add I go out to Oregon in the fall when the new pinot noir crops are unveiled. Same grape, strings of vineyards a couple miles apart and it is a huge tourist event. Typically it is $5 to $10 to sample the new crop at each vineyard. And they encourage and celebrate the difference.
    Bruce Treat
    750 Sugar Maple Taps
    5/16 & 3/16 w/ .225 Spiles
    H2O Innovation RO
    2X6 Grimm w/ Preheater & Blower
    Bow, New Hampshire

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hop Kiln Road View Post
    750 Sugar Maple Taps
    Soooo... when I read the threads where people are complaining about strange things happening to their syrup and or sap during mid season I frequently notice that in their description lines at the bottom of their commentary is a line that says something like ... " 150 Sugars 450 Reds". I don't seem to see the guys/ladies with "all sugars" complain about their sap or syrup doing funky crazy butted things nearly as much. Aside from the "Fat Lady" singing at the end of the season at which time all trees just go their way.

    I do see strange things like the guys with 750 sugar maple taps offer samples of Red Maple syrup of the same grade as some Sugar Maple Syrup.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Oneida NY
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    I used to tap only Sugar maples, until about 4 seasons ago. I gradually added some reds, This year I had about 50% reds around the sugarhouse but no reds on my lease. That gave me just under 20% reds. I think it has improved an already great taste. My customers like both.
    Dave Klish about 1320 taps in '15, doing fewer each year, about 450 planned for 2020 (and after?)
    2012 Mahindra 36 HP 4x4/ loader/cab/heat/AC:-)
    added a gooseneck equipment trailer and F350 to tow it to haul more sap
    3x8 raised flue evaporator
    250 GPH converted to electric, RO by Ray Gingerich
    6.32 KW solar system, 1.48KW is battery backed up, all net metered
    http://s1041.photobucket.com/albums/...anssugarhouse/
    website: www.cnymaple.com

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