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Thread: Please Help with refractometer Brix not matching temp and I'm trying to finish today

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
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    Hudson Valley, NY
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    Question Please Help with refractometer Brix not matching temp and I'm trying to finish today

    I'm having a problem with my readings that I didn't have last year and trying to finish up my less than 2 gallons today.

    I don't have a hydrometer but the couple years I've been using a refractometer to tell when I'm at 66 brix and that normally matches the boiling temp of 219.5 F pretty closely. But this year My pot has reached 221 degrees but the refractometer is only reading 59-60

    I have cooled my syrup sample, doublechecked the refractometer with virgin olive oil and it's reading 71.5 as it should, and have tried 2 different thermometers to verify that I did go over and hit 221 degrees. Unless I'm missing something, maybe my olive oil that I tested with is bad? I also verified water boiling temp at my location.

    I don't know which one to trust so I can bottle. I'm leaning towards just going with temperature and adding a little sap to bring it back down to a 219.5 degree boiling temperature.
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Backyard hobby syrup maker on about 12 trees

  2. #2
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    Essex VT
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    The syrup hydrometer with syrup at 211 is the best route to go with in my opinion. I have refractometer and do not use it on hot syrup off the evaporator. The hydrometer is fool proof. Always buy 2. I have only broken one in 10 years, but I have one to use and 2 new ones in the boxes.

    Joe
    2004- 470 taps on gravity and buckets
    2006- 590 taps on gravity and buckets 300 gph RO
    2009- 845 taps on vacuum no buckets, 600 gph RO
    2010- 925 taps on vacuum new 2 stage vacuum pump
    2014- 3045 taps on vacuum, new 1200 gph RO
    2015- 3104 taps on vacuum
    2017- 3213 taps on vacuum
    3' x 10' oil fired evaporator with steamaway

  3. #3
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    MA
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    Temp for boiling water must be verified on a daily basis (at minimum) because atmospheric pressure changes will affect it. When was the last time you checked?
    60ish taps on buckets
    D&G Sportsman 18x63
    Turbo RB15 RO Bucket
    Stihl 044 and 026

  4. #4
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    Feb 2020
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    I checked today both with the SapTap App and also I boiled some water on the stove and checked the temp.
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Backyard hobby syrup maker on about 12 trees

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    MA
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    Sounds very frustrating. Not sure what's happening with your refractometer. One option is to use the old school method of "sheeting" the syrup to check for doneness. A forum or google search will be helpful. Basically the idea is that instead of dripping off a spoon the syrup will form a "sheet". That would tell you if you are close.
    60ish taps on buckets
    D&G Sportsman 18x63
    Turbo RB15 RO Bucket
    Stihl 044 and 026

  6. #6
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    Feb 2020
    Location
    Hudson Valley, NY
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    I think there's something up with the refractometer. I checked a sample from last years syrup in the refrigerator after bringing the sample up to room temp and it only read 58 brix, but I know it was 66.5 when I bottled it last year. It was checked, and double and tripple checked. But that doesn't explain the olive oil reading correctly now.

    Also, I just filtered what I had and now it reads 64 brix. So I'm thinking that If my last years sample is correct but reading 58 now, and I have currently over boiled based on temp and it's reading 64, then my current sample is maybe really at 70ish brix. If that's the case, I can add some sap, boil to 219.5 and hope it's okay?
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Backyard hobby syrup maker on about 12 trees

  7. #7
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    Feb 2020
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    Hudson Valley, NY
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    I'm not sure what's going on today, but things are screwy for me, that's for sure. I just boiled more water on the stove and this time it boiled at 214 on one thermometer and 213.6 on a second one which is a big change since this morning. I'm going to try using the new numbers to reheat the sap and recheck with the refractometer.
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Backyard hobby syrup maker on about 12 trees

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    Tolland, Ct
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    This. today I checked and my boiling temp of water is 213. last year on 2/23 it was 209.5. 2/29 was 209.0. and 3/8 was 212.

    sometimes its different even in the same day! Nature is a teenage girl, don't try and figure it out
    2020 - 1st year 14 taps 1 Gallon Jugs + 4x 5-Gallon Buckets + Propane Grill + lots of headaches
    2021 - 2nd year - 19 Taps (and some free sap from a friend in the same own!) 145 or so OZ
    2022 -

  9. #9
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    Feb 2020
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    Hudson Valley, NY
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    Okay, all sorted out I think. My apologies for the panic post.

    For whatever reason, there was a big water boiling temp swing between early this morning and this afternoon. Couple that with the fact that I never really realized how much brix in finished syrup can change with just 1 to 2 degrees in boiling temperature.
    I noticed that even at 220.5 degrees, my syrup was still a little thin and not sheeting as it should. I ended up taking it to a little over 122 and when checked on my refractometer it read just over 67.5 brix, so I called it a day, filtered and bottled. I just hope it wasn't too heavy and crystalizes.

    This is just my 3rd year as a backyarder. The first year I just winged it on my BBQ grill, went to 219.5 and canned a half gallon. The second year I got the refractometer to be more precise, used real bottles and a big propane burner and did over a gallon. This year I moved to a wood fired barrel stove and hoped to make more, but snow, weather and health didn't cooperate and I did a little over a gallon which would have been a good bit more except for a big boil over mishap when finishing on a big propane burner. I lost a lot, but live and learn

    This is my best tasting so far, and even with the mishap, it's enough for the year for my wife and I, plus giving away to a few family and friends.
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Backyard hobby syrup maker on about 12 trees

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    W Charleston, VT
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    33

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheNamelessPoet View Post
    This. today I checked and my boiling temp of water is 213. last year on 2/23 it was 209.5. 2/29 was 209.0. and 3/8 was 212.

    sometimes its different even in the same day! Nature is a teenage girl, don't try and figure it out
    ”Her”. 🤣.....

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