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Thread: Once a week boil on divided pan

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Once a week boil on divided pan

    This will be my first full season using my new Mason 2x3. Previously I did batch boils on a small homemade evaporator.

    I live two hours from my sugar shack/sugarbush, and I have family responsibilities. So I really can't get to the rig mid-week. When I was batch-boiling, I would just boil everything down as far as I could, and then finish on the stove at home. But that doesn't make sense with a divided pan, so I'm trying to make a plan. Here's what I've come up with so far:

    Early season:
    --------------
    1 - At the end of the boil, stop feeding the arch. It'll still be hot for a while, but not raging hot. Slowly open the syrup spigot while feeding fresh sap from the preheater into the pan, until I have caught all the nearup that was in the last channel. This goes into container #1 that I will boil down to syrup at home.
    2 - Continue to catch another gallon or so of boiled sap into container #2. This should be halfway to syrup, and I'll put it in the chest freezer when I get home.
    3 - Close the spigot and dump the rest of the sap from the preheater into the pan. Make sure it comes to at least a simmer, and make sure there's close to an inch in there, so it doesn't cook too much and burn. Then cover with foil and leave it to freeze.
    4 - Next week, a couple days before I head up to boil, take container #2 out of the chest freezer and let it defrost.
    5 - When I start up the evaporator, after all the frozen sap in the pan has melted, pour the halfway-to-syrup into the syrup channel. That should set up my gradient.

    The one thing I'm most worried about with this method is that the dividers in the pan are just tacked to the floor of the pan, so if the frozen sap expands under the dividers, could it warp the pan and open up the space between the pan and the divider more and more every time it freezes? Maybe even pop the tacks?

    Later season, or any week with warm temps predicted:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    1 - Same as above
    2 - same as above
    3 - same as above
    3.5 - After the fire has died down enough to be safe, take the pan off the arch, and dump all the remaining sap into big container #3
    4 - same as above, but now with two containers
    5 - Same as 5 above, but instead I fill the pan with container #3 first, then pour container #2 into the syrup channel of the pan

    My big concerns here are being able to handle all the sap in the pan at step 3.5. I have to get the timing of stopping the fire just right. If the fire is burning too long and hot, I risk the level getting too low and burning it, or else taking the pan off with a raging fire and burning down the sugar shack and scorching myself! If the fire dies down too soon, then I have too much sap to deal with, and may not have a way to get it all home, or be able to store it all until the next week.

    Anyone else been in this situation? What did you do? Or if you have a divided pan and could only boil on weekends, what would you do?

    Thanks for any input!

    Gabe O
    Last edited by berkshires; 10-29-2020 at 08:57 AM.
    2016: Homemade arch from old woodburning stove. 2 steam tray pans. 6 taps on buckets. 1.1 gall syrup
    2017: Same homemade evaporator, but souped up. Still 2 steam tray pans. 15 taps on buckets. 4.5 galls syrup.
    2018: Same setup. Limited time (New baby!) 12 taps and short season. 2.2 gallons syrup.
    2019: Still very limited time. Downsized to 7 taps and a short season. 1.8 gallons syrup
    2020: 9 taps, new Mason 2x3 XL halfway through season, 2 gallons syrup
    2021: Planning on 15-16 taps

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Oneida NY
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    Default

    I think for one thing, you want more that foil to cover the pan. I had covers made for my bigger pans, my flues pan has a hood, the 3x3 syrup pan and my 2x6 finisher I had a tin shop make covers, the bottler came with a cover and I made covers for the 6 boxes, float or draw of between 3 pans. This includes any float boxes or draw off boxes.
    I can't help you with leaving partially boiled sap in the pan. Just a guess, but if you draw off, once it cools enough, what is in the last channel and pour it into the first channel, it will be protected from freezing down to?. That temperature will depend on how much sugar is in the pan.
    While I'm at my sugarhouse daily in-season, if I get an extended freeze, I have never drained the pan or pans, as long as I boiled for at least 3-4 hrs. At times slush will form on top, but never solid ice. In my early years I actually placed a 60 watt light bulb in the firebox, but after a couple of years I found that not necessary. Some of this will be related to the outside temperatures, if maybe 10F or higher, no issue, if -20F ?
    Dave Klish about 400 taps, down from much more. Will hold about the same for 2021
    2012 Mahindra 36 HP 4x4/ loader/cab/heat/AC:-)
    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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Location
    Northeast Indiana
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    In the early season when it is cold I would only catch about a gallon for container #1 and leave the rest in the pan for the week. The sap in the pan will freeze on top but be liquid on the bottom. When you fire it up the next weekend and start adding sap you will get your gradiant back.
    Sunrise 2X4 Hobby
    Smoky Lake Hybrid Pan

    2020
    100 Taps

    2019
    40 Taps

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Savoy, MA
    Posts
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    Default

    Hey Gabe....few comments. This seems like a big headache to me. I understand why you're going through all of the trouble...living 2 hours away. But it's going to be a headache, and when a fun, enjoyable hobby turns into a headache it can be off-putting.

    I don't think you will have a problem letting your sweet sit in the pan during week. Use a heat lamp if you're worried.

    As I'm sure you know, it takes a lot of sap to sweeten a 2x4...150 gallons or so. So, if you are only on 9 taps you are going to have to blow through a lot of weekends just trying to get your pan sweetened. So, for your first week-ends, I wouldn't even bother taking it home. Just leave it in the pan, fire the evaporator up the next time and reestablish your gradient.

    If the forecast calls for warm temps. you're going to have a problem later in the season. If you let your sweet sit in the pan you risk losing it. You'll then have to take it home and freeze it during the week. But again, even if you bring down the sap to an inch or so in your pan, that's still a lot of sap. There's a formula to figure out how much...I'd estimate 4 to 6 gallons depending on how low you drop the level.

    I'm curious why you upgraded to a 2x4 with only 9 taps. Are you going to significantly increase your tap count? A 2x4 on 9 taps I think is going to be way too big. As I said, even if sap flow is really good, you're going to have a hard time feeding that evaporator.

    I was just down in Chester last weekend for my sons soccer game. First time visiting. Beautiful country and a nice little town.
    16x24 Timber Frame Sugar House
    Mason 2x4 Evaporator
    90 trees on buckets

    "Roses are red and violets are purple
    Sugar is sweet and so is maple surple
    "

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
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    Northeast Indiana
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    Default

    On a 2x4 you will have 5 gallons for every inch in the pan.
    Sunrise 2X4 Hobby
    Smoky Lake Hybrid Pan

    2020
    100 Taps

    2019
    40 Taps

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    chester, ma
    Posts
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    Quote Originally Posted by maple flats View Post
    I think for one thing, you want more that foil to cover the pan. I had covers made for my bigger pans, my flues pan has a hood, the 3x3 syrup pan and my 2x6 finisher I had a tin shop make covers, the bottler came with a cover and I made covers for the 6 boxes, float or draw of between 3 pans. This includes any float boxes or draw off boxes.
    I can't help you with leaving partially boiled sap in the pan. Just a guess, but if you draw off, once it cools enough, what is in the last channel and pour it into the first channel, it will be protected from freezing down to?. That temperature will depend on how much sugar is in the pan.
    While I'm at my sugarhouse daily in-season, if I get an extended freeze, I have never drained the pan or pans, as long as I boiled for at least 3-4 hrs. At times slush will form on top, but never solid ice. In my early years I actually placed a 60 watt light bulb in the firebox, but after a couple of years I found that not necessary. Some of this will be related to the outside temperatures, if maybe 10F or higher, no issue, if -20F ?
    Yeah, longer-term, getting a stainless steel cover made probably is a good idea. Sounds like from yours and other feedback - best to leave as much sweet in the pan as possible, and then it won't freeze so hard.
    2016: Homemade arch from old woodburning stove. 2 steam tray pans. 6 taps on buckets. 1.1 gall syrup
    2017: Same homemade evaporator, but souped up. Still 2 steam tray pans. 15 taps on buckets. 4.5 galls syrup.
    2018: Same setup. Limited time (New baby!) 12 taps and short season. 2.2 gallons syrup.
    2019: Still very limited time. Downsized to 7 taps and a short season. 1.8 gallons syrup
    2020: 9 taps, new Mason 2x3 XL halfway through season, 2 gallons syrup
    2021: Planning on 15-16 taps

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    chester, ma
    Posts
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    Default

    Before I say anything else I should point out that I had a typo in my post (that I have since corrected). I have a 2x3, not a 2x4. Sorry about that.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigschuss View Post
    Hey Gabe....few comments. This seems like a big headache to me. I understand why you're going through all of the trouble...living 2 hours away. But it's going to be a headache, and when a fun, enjoyable hobby turns into a headache it can be off-putting.
    I know. I struggled about whether or not to go with a divided pan at all, but in the end it seemed best.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigschuss View Post
    I don't think you will have a problem letting your sweet sit in the pan during week. Use a heat lamp if you're worried.
    I don't have electricity, so no lamp. But based on what you and others are saying, on cold weeks if I leave the sweet in the pan it sounds like I shouldn't have an issue with damaging the pan.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigschuss View Post
    As I'm sure you know, it takes a lot of sap to sweeten a 2x4...150 gallons or so. So, if you are only on 9 taps you are going to have to blow through a lot of weekends just trying to get your pan sweetened. So, for your first week-ends, I wouldn't even bother taking it home. Just leave it in the pan, fire the evaporator up the next time and reestablish your gradient.
    Let me clarify a few things:
    Sorry, as I mentioned - it's a 2x3, not 2x4.
    I plan on around 15 taps this season. So a good week might see me feeding the evaporator 50-60 gallons of sap. I have plenty of maples, so I could scale this up. But for my first real season boiling on a new rig I don't want to be swimming in sap.

    I did a couple of boils on it last season, and yeah, I never got anywhere close to sweetening the pan properly. I think if I can get some food-grade stoppers to plug the holes between the dividers, for early season boils that might be an easier way to maintain the gradient than drawing off nearup from the last channel and putting it back in the next weekend. Anyone know of a good cheap source for this?

    Seems like, unless the season really kicks off with a bang, I can probably hope to be doing my first syrup draws near the end of my second weekend, depending on the level in the pan. I've been boiling a few years, so I think I feel comfortable keeping it down under an inch, maybe like 3/4 of an inch to start.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigschuss View Post
    If the forecast calls for warm temps. you're going to have a problem later in the season. If you let your sweet sit in the pan you risk losing it. You'll then have to take it home and freeze it during the week. But again, even if you bring down the sap to an inch or so in your pan, that's still a lot of sap. There's a formula to figure out how much...I'd estimate 4 to 6 gallons depending on how low you drop the level.
    Exactly. I do have a couple of 2.5 gallon jugs I can use for this. And I think if I can keep enough kindling on hand, I can let the real fire burn down, and then just feed it kindling until it reaches the level I want.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigschuss View Post
    I'm curious why you upgraded to a 2x4 with only 9 taps. Are you going to significantly increase your tap count? A 2x4 on 9 taps I think is going to be way too big. As I said, even if sap flow is really good, you're going to have a hard time feeding that evaporator.
    Yeah, that would have been silly. Even the 2x3 with 15 taps might be more evaporator than I really need, but if I'm going to invest in a real evaporator, I'd rather have room to grow, and I really like the Mason.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigschuss View Post
    I was just down in Chester last weekend for my sons soccer game. First time visiting. Beautiful country and a nice little town.
    Yeah, the hilltowns are beautiful. I always enjoy my time there, even if I'm working my butt off all weekend.

    Thanks for the tips,

    Gabe O
    2016: Homemade arch from old woodburning stove. 2 steam tray pans. 6 taps on buckets. 1.1 gall syrup
    2017: Same homemade evaporator, but souped up. Still 2 steam tray pans. 15 taps on buckets. 4.5 galls syrup.
    2018: Same setup. Limited time (New baby!) 12 taps and short season. 2.2 gallons syrup.
    2019: Still very limited time. Downsized to 7 taps and a short season. 1.8 gallons syrup
    2020: 9 taps, new Mason 2x3 XL halfway through season, 2 gallons syrup
    2021: Planning on 15-16 taps

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Oneida NY
    Posts
    10,615

    Default

    Do you plan to stay with 9 taps, or maybe the 15 you had previously or maybe even more? Do you have potential for 20 taps? On average you might get 1 gal/tap/day. On a good day, maybe 2-3 gal but that will not be your average. Without getting too convoluted you need to make a plan. Do you have electric at your camp? What about refrigeration? You can freeze sap, but if you got an RO, the concentrate spoils fast unless cooled to the right temp. In a recent Maple News article there was a table showing freezing point vs sugar %. To get the longest storage life on concentrate, (either boiled or RO'd) you need to cool it to just above the freezing point. If the concentrate was made by boiling, the micro organisms have been killed, it will keep longer without needing such precise cooling, if you got it by an RO, the micro organisms have been concentrated along with the sugars, thus proper cooling is a must.
    Dave Klish about 400 taps, down from much more. Will hold about the same for 2021
    2012 Mahindra 36 HP 4x4/ loader/cab/heat/AC:-)
    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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    chester, ma
    Posts
    402

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by maple flats View Post
    Do you plan to stay with 9 taps, or maybe the 15 you had previously or maybe even more? Do you have potential for 20 taps? On average you might get 1 gal/tap/day. On a good day, maybe 2-3 gal but that will not be your average. Without getting too convoluted you need to make a plan. Do you have electric at your camp? What about refrigeration? You can freeze sap, but if you got an RO, the concentrate spoils fast unless cooled to the right temp. In a recent Maple News article there was a table showing freezing point vs sugar %. To get the longest storage life on concentrate, (either boiled or RO'd) you need to cool it to just above the freezing point. If the concentrate was made by boiling, the micro organisms have been killed, it will keep longer without needing such precise cooling, if you got it by an RO, the micro organisms have been concentrated along with the sugars, thus proper cooling is a must.
    Hey Dave,

    As I mentioned in the post right above yours (sorry, it was long, so I don't blame you for skipping it) I plan for 15 taps this year, and I have no electricity. I have the potential for probably well over 100 taps if I wanted, but I haven't the time or interest in that. Particularly since many of the trees are very crowded and have low sugar. And many others are very dispersed, and would take a lot of scrambling on steep terrain to get to. I'd rather pick and choose the best trees, and those closest to the sugar shack. Anyway, I have no interest in selling my syrup, so I'd probably top out at 20-25 taps max.

    Not sure what you're getting at regarding RO, storage of concentrate, etc. I could potentially bring a big deep-cycle battery with me and run an RO off that for a few hours, but it doesn't seem worth the hassle, honestly.

    GO
    2016: Homemade arch from old woodburning stove. 2 steam tray pans. 6 taps on buckets. 1.1 gall syrup
    2017: Same homemade evaporator, but souped up. Still 2 steam tray pans. 15 taps on buckets. 4.5 galls syrup.
    2018: Same setup. Limited time (New baby!) 12 taps and short season. 2.2 gallons syrup.
    2019: Still very limited time. Downsized to 7 taps and a short season. 1.8 gallons syrup
    2020: 9 taps, new Mason 2x3 XL halfway through season, 2 gallons syrup
    2021: Planning on 15-16 taps

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Oneida NY
    Posts
    10,615

    Default

    berkshires, FYI, I did read your entire post. I just did not notice a higher tap count possibility. My point was that with just 9 taps the amount of sap, especially in the early part of the season will be quite low, maybe not enough to even start a first boil for a while. When you first start in the season, you want at least 3 hours boil time at full boil before there is enough sugar in the pan to protect it from freezing. Most 2x3's will boil about 6 maybe 7 gph and you want to end up with about an inch in the pan as you shut down. 2' x 3' = 6 sq ft, at 1" deep that is .5 CF or almost 3.75 gal. If you evaporate away 18 gal and end up with 3.75 gal, you will want almost 22 gal for a first boil. On 9 taps, that could be a challenge until the main part of the season hits. 20 taps would help.
    Dave Klish about 400 taps, down from much more. Will hold about the same for 2021
    2012 Mahindra 36 HP 4x4/ loader/cab/heat/AC:-)
    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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