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Thread: What happened to my batch?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
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    MN
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    Default What happened to my batch?

    My second batch this year ended up having a crazy amount of niter sand in it. I did two batches this year that were one week apart and boiled almost identically. In the picture, the first batch is on the left and the second batch is on the right. You can see almost the same color, but very different results in terms of niter. My boiling process is using an outdoor wood fired boil until I can fit the batch in my 16 quart pot and finish inside on the stove. I filter (using a cone filter with 2 pre filters) when I do the transfer from the wood stove to the kitchen stove and then once again before bottling. I used a hydrometer to find the finishing point, waited for the temp to drop to 185 before I filter a second time. After the 2nd filter, the syrup went straight into jars that were sterilized and pre-heated in the oven. Exact same process for both batches except I did not use a hydrometer on the first batch. This is the same process I have been using for 3 years and I've never had niter sand issues. Usually I only see a small trace of it, if any, at the bottom of my jars... This 2nd batch is something like 15-20% niter sand! This 2nd batch was my first time using a hydrometer and you can see from the pic with the thermometer that I reached around 222-224 as my finishing temp. The sap used for batch two was less than a week old and was stored buried in snow banks, so the sap should have been fine. The sap was also around 2.4% based on my sap hydrometer. What did I do wrong?

    IMG_1605.jpgIMG_0783_Original.jpg
    Last edited by jwmiller; 04-15-2020 at 11:42 AM.

  2. #2
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    Many people were reporting higher than usual niter this year and in some cases a finer niter which would be harder to filter out using cone filters. So I wouldn't say you did anything wrong or there was anything wrong with your batch. It just needs more filtering. Make sure you clean and rinse your filters good. And never wring them out or do anything to distort the fibers. Did you use new filters on the 2nd batch or used ones?
    270 taps on 2 Shurflo's, 31 taps on 3/16" and 120 taps on gravity. 421 total for 2021 season.
    Mountain Maple S3 controller for 145 of the vacuum taps
    2x6 Darveau Mystique Oil Fired Evaporator w/ Smoky Lake Simplicity Auto Draw
    Wesfab 7” filter press
    IBC totes in the woods, 800 Gallon CDL bulk tank at the shack

  3. #3
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    I can't tell from the photos, but are you saying that the niter fills 15-20% of the jars? If so, I wonder if it could be sugar crystals and not niter. I'd pour out a jar and taste the residue. Is it gritty and bad? If so it's niter. If it tastes great it's sugar.

    Your hydrometer photo looks like the syrup is a little heavy. I can see a gap below the red line. Check out the reading line: https://www.leaderevaporator.com/pdf...hydrometer.pdf

    Are you sure you kept your thick cone filter the same side out both times?

  4. #4
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    Apr 2018
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    MN
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    Default

    Thanks for the replies. Yes, I am saying the niter fills 15-20% of the jars volume wise... When you say sugar crystals, I don't think that is the case. My first year boiling syrup and I cooked one batch way too long and had several of my jars crystallize at the bottom... This is nothing like that.

    So if I am understanding proper use of the hydrometer, you want to stop as soon as you see the red line? I thought that is what I did but can see now it looks a tad heavy.

    Yes, I am positive the cone filter was the same side out for both filters. The pre-filters were swapped out for new ones on the 2nd filter.

    The part that confuses me so much is the difference in the batch results and only being a week apart... my first batch had zero niter, like literally nothing. How does it change so fast? Or is it the fact that my first batch is likely light since I went off of temp and not using a hydrometer, so it didn't cook long enough to produce as much niter as the second batch when I did use a hydrometer? That is the only thing I can think of.
    Last edited by jwmiller; 04-16-2020 at 01:49 PM.

  5. #5
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    Niter can vary greatly throughout the season, even day to day so it's really no surprise. There's probably a science behind it but that's beyond me. It's nothing you can control so focus on what you can do to filter better. Your first batch being done off temperature is just as likely to be over cooked as under cooked. That's not the difference, it's just what the trees gave you. You can reheat the batch and re-filter it.
    270 taps on 2 Shurflo's, 31 taps on 3/16" and 120 taps on gravity. 421 total for 2021 season.
    Mountain Maple S3 controller for 145 of the vacuum taps
    2x6 Darveau Mystique Oil Fired Evaporator w/ Smoky Lake Simplicity Auto Draw
    Wesfab 7” filter press
    IBC totes in the woods, 800 Gallon CDL bulk tank at the shack

  6. #6
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    Despite having done this a long time, I am still learning new things, but don't think I have personally seen so much niter after proper filtering. I have seen that much sugar. I think the different results might be due to different finish densities.

    I think you'll want to verify if it is, in fact, niter, thus my suggestion to do a taste/grittiness test.

    As the linked illustration in my prior post shows, the syrup actually "climbs" up the hydrometer a bit, so as soon as the hot syrup red line starts appearing above the near-boiling syrup that you've just drawn, you should be good.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Fayston, Vt
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    Have you tried a rolling boil with filter in large pot with permeate or house water for a few minutes?
    I had same problem 5 or so years back.
    I do at end of season, they look like new no stains.
    2020 same
    2019 RB10 26 taps
    2018 RO Bucket RB5 taps 20, leg tank in shed w/2 5/16
    2017 18 taps
    2016 20 taps
    2015 21 taps
    2014 30 2 gravity line, 2 hotel pan concrete arch 35 g leg tank
    2013 LP hook up in shack buckets 12 taps
    2 burner cook top 2012 finisher on a bbq tanks
    2011 rookie 2+ gal
    8 taps w/ milk jugs
    turkey cooker
    50-60 up back maybe

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    MN
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    I will taste test tonight and confirm whether or not its niter. I've been so disappointed by that 2nd batch's niter that I haven't even tasted it yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by mainebackswoodssyrup View Post
    You can reheat the batch and re-filter it.
    I am going to re-bottle.. Is it better to reheat and refilter? Or now that the niter is all settled at the bottom, I could probably just pour it out of the jars and stop once I hit the niter... Either way will result in lost syrup to either the filter or not being able to perfectly stop pouring before the niter starts coming out.

  9. #9
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    MN
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    Quote Originally Posted by to100 View Post
    Have you tried a rolling boil with filter in large pot with permeate or house water for a few minutes?
    I had same problem 5 or so years back.
    So are you saying filter the syrup when its at a boil? That is what I did the first year I started boiling syrup and I definitely got more niter sand than how I do it now where I let it cool to ~185 before bottling. Isn't best practice to filter at 185ish? Forgive me as I have a lot to learn.

    Or are you saying that you kind of steam the filter before actually using it? I do run hot water thru the filter before using it if that counts for anything?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Peru, Maine
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    Default

    I would definitely let gravity help you and let the niter settle to the bottom. Dump it all back into a pot and waste a little bit of syrup once the thicker niter starts coming out of the jar. I would try reheating and filtering at 185 so you don’t make more niter. Then try and keep it above 180 but below 190 when bottling.
    Last edited by mainebackswoodssyrup; 04-16-2020 at 04:43 PM.
    270 taps on 2 Shurflo's, 31 taps on 3/16" and 120 taps on gravity. 421 total for 2021 season.
    Mountain Maple S3 controller for 145 of the vacuum taps
    2x6 Darveau Mystique Oil Fired Evaporator w/ Smoky Lake Simplicity Auto Draw
    Wesfab 7” filter press
    IBC totes in the woods, 800 Gallon CDL bulk tank at the shack

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