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Thread: Sweetening the pans

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Sweetening the pans

    I'm going from a homemade arch with 2x4 flat pan to a forced air Smokey Lake Corsair arch with a 2x4 divided pan this coming spring. I know this subject has been repeatedly covered, and the search function helped me a bunch ... but one thing I could NOT find an answer to was this question (forgive me in advance, maybe I didn't look hard enough):
    • I know it's going to take a good amount of sap to sweeten the pans (likely 150 gallons or more) until I can start drawing off ... but is that initial sap just "lost" to the sweetening process, or do you make it up eventually? For example (assuming 40:1), if I end up boiling 400 gallons of sap overall, will I still end up with 10 gallons of syrup? Or will I end up with about 6.25 gallons? I saw a post that said that once you start drawing off, you pretty much hit that 40:1 ratio for the rest of the sap. If that's true, then the first "sweetenings" must be lost to the process? If they're not lost, then after the sweetening the ratio should drop ... right?

    Thanks all ... excited to see what this new arch can do. I was squeezing about 11 GPH out of my old flat pan arch with a homemade AUF setup, wrist-sized pieces of red oak, and firing every 8 minutes. From what I've read, if I do the same with this new arch I can possible see 15-16 GPH. I've also moved inside of a new pole barn, so installed a hood with their 10/14 Concentric Exhaust system. Drafts really well already, the blower fan slowly spins by itself most days.

  2. #2
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    You will definitely enjoy moving to the divided pans. Smokey Lake makes a nice product. My brother-in-law just got a SL arch for his rig.

    The syrup is "tied up" in the pans for the duration of the season (unless you "boil out" at some point along the way), but you will reclaim it at the end when you eventually boil out the pans. The trick is making sure the pans don't go ropey or spoil during warm spells. To do that, make sure you DO NOT add any UNBOILED sap at the end of each boil, and that during any intervening periods when it is warm but the sap isn't running you start a small fire in the rig to bring the sweet to a boil for 5-10 min every 2-3 days. This will keep microbes from spoiling what is in the pans. Alternatively you can "boil out" every now and then, but that means you'll need to re-sweeten the pans again the next time you boil.
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr
    http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc
    https://mapleresearch.org
    Timothy.Perkins@uvm.edu

  3. #3
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    When sweetening the pan you are increasing the sugar content in the pan to a point where there is syrup at the draw off. It is not a consistent density across the pan but goes from whatever your sap is to syrup at the other end. This sugar "captured" in the pan will be recovered when you boil this down at the end of the year or whenever you need to empty your pan.
    Smoky Lake 2x6 dropflu pans and hoods on homemade arch
    Smoky Lake 6 gallon water jacked bottler
    Concentric Exhaust
    250 Deer Run RO
    325 taps

  4. #4
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    Mar 2020
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    Central Pennsylvania
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    Is there any kind of formula out there that can be used to predict how much sap it would take to sweeten a pan at a specific pan depth? Obviously, the variables in the formula would be volume of sap/syrup in the pan at a constant depth (say 1"), sap sugar content and desired draw off syrup concentration/brix.
    Also, once the pan is sweetened and you run out of sap during a boil, could you just draw off what's left in the pans, refrigerate it and put it back into the pan when you get enough sap to boil again? Or is the intermittent firing/boiling preferred during warm/"dry" spells? I assume the pan gradient is lost as soon as the sap in the pan cools.
    Thanks for the answers and info. I'm getting prepared to switch to a divided pan next season.
    2020 - 1st year - 13 black walnut taps - 4 bottles syrup
    2021 - 50 taps, 22 black walnuts/28 red maples - 4 gallons syrup
    2022 - 53 taps, 11 black walnuts/42 reds, 20 on vacuum

  5. #5
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    Apr 2019
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    Nashville, MI
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    You will lose the gradient as the pan cools with a divided pan. It does come back quickly the next time you fire provided you use the liquid you have in the pan or maybe stored because of warm temperatures. At the end of the season when I had a divided pan and ran out of sap I used water to push thru the sweet as much as possible. My SL 2 x 4 with AUF and a raised flue pan does between 40 and 50 gallons an hour when it is really roaring. You are going to really like the new evaporator and being inside with it.
    2004 - 2012 2x3 flat pan 25 to 60 taps
    2012 2x3 new divided pan w/draw off 55 taps
    2018 - didn't boil surgery - bought new evaporator
    2019 new SML 2x4 raised flue high output evap. 65 taps
    made 17 gal syrup
    2020 - only put out 53 taps - made 16.25 gal syrup
    2021 - going for 50 bags and 50 on tubing

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    chester, ma
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    Quote Originally Posted by Openwater View Post
    Is there any kind of formula out there that can be used to predict how much sap it would take to sweeten a pan at a specific pan depth?
    Theoretically it is the amount of sap required to make an even gradient in which it is syrup on one end and sap on the other, which is to say that it is on average 33% sugar. So if you calculate the volume of sap it would take, given the area and depth, to boil down to 33% in an undivided flat pan, that should get you in the ballpark.

    In practice, I think it's a bit more complicated, because of mixing within channels.

    That said, in my 2x3 last year (my first year on a divided pan) it took me only about 40 gallons to get to my first draw. I was pleasantly surprised. I think I was running at a little under an inch deep.

    Gabe
    Last edited by berkshires; 10-27-2021 at 10:23 AM. Reason: I checked my notes - changed 50 to 40
    2016: Homemade arch from old woodburning stove; 2 steam tray pans; 6 taps; 1.1 galls
    2017: Same setup. 15 taps; 4.5 galls
    2018: Same setup. Limited time. 12 taps and short season; 2.2 galls
    2019: Very limited time. 7 taps and a short season; 1.8 galls
    2020: New Mason 2x3 XL halfway through season; 9 taps 2 galls
    2021: Same 2x3, 18 taps, 4.5 galls
    2022: 23 taps
    All taps on buckets

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by berkshires View Post
    I think I was running at a little under an inch deep.
    While as suggested, experienced operators can run their pans quite shallow, since this is a new evaporator and new process (divided pans) for you, I'd suggest boiling deeper than that. Maybe start with 2" (or even more). Then as you gain experience, drop the level a bit each boil until you get to a point you like. The boil won't be quite as hard if it's deeper, but it'll give you some margin for error. Kind of depends upon how attentive you are also. With 2", you might get a chance to hit the bathroom (if nearby) occasionally if you're quick about it. If your level is under 1", don't step away from the pans unless somebody else (who knows what to look for) is there watching it.

    I have never understood the concept and practice of filling the pans up and then walking away to do other chores while it simmers. Seems like a recipe for disaster, and it not infrequently ends up that way. There is a fair amount of water to boil off going from 40 to 66 Brix, but only a very small amount going from 60 to 66 Brix. The amount of water to be boiled off as Brix increases is not linear, but exponential. Boiling is kind of like a sled starting off on a low slope going slowly downhill. The slope gets steeper and steeper (the Brix gets higher and higher) as you go down. The problem is that there is a wall at the bottom (burned pans). As you get further down the slope (higher in Brix), you speed increases (the proportion of water boiled off), and keeps going faster and faster. So you need to be there to stop the sled, before you hit the wall -- which is no fun at all and can be quite expensive.
    Last edited by DrTimPerkins; 10-27-2021 at 08:45 AM.
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr
    http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc
    https://mapleresearch.org
    Timothy.Perkins@uvm.edu

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Location
    Central Pennsylvania
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    That said, in my 2x3 last year (my first year on a divided pan) it took me only about 50 gallons to get to my first draw
    Gabe, was the 50 gallons raw sap (2-3%), or was it RO'ed down from a larger volume?
    2020 - 1st year - 13 black walnut taps - 4 bottles syrup
    2021 - 50 taps, 22 black walnuts/28 red maples - 4 gallons syrup
    2022 - 53 taps, 11 black walnuts/42 reds, 20 on vacuum

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    chester, ma
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    561

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    Quote Originally Posted by Openwater View Post
    Gabe, was the 50 gallons raw sap (2-3%), or was it RO'ed down from a larger volume?
    I checked my notes this morning, and I think it was more like 40 gallons. 35 Gallons went into the pan on the first boil, and then my first draw was 45 minutes into the second boil.

    Straight sap, no RO. I measured it at 2% for that first boil, and 2.1% for the second boil.

    And for whatever it's worth, my 2 x 3 has four channels. I'm not familiar with the SL pan, but presumably it has four channels also? If it has only 3, I would imagine it would probably take more sap for a given depth to get to the first draw, since a larger volume is mixing in that last channel. But I'm no expert!

    GO
    2016: Homemade arch from old woodburning stove; 2 steam tray pans; 6 taps; 1.1 galls
    2017: Same setup. 15 taps; 4.5 galls
    2018: Same setup. Limited time. 12 taps and short season; 2.2 galls
    2019: Very limited time. 7 taps and a short season; 1.8 galls
    2020: New Mason 2x3 XL halfway through season; 9 taps 2 galls
    2021: Same 2x3, 18 taps, 4.5 galls
    2022: 23 taps
    All taps on buckets

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Hayward, WI
    Posts
    16

    Default

    Thanks folks ... good information. Sounds like eventually, you end up with the normal ratio of sap to syrup ... which is what I thought. A few old posts I read led to some confusion on my part. Always good to confirm with those that have more years of experience!

    I'm looking forwards to seeing that Concentric exhaust work, being inside and not being a slave to the weather for boiling anymore!

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