Last week we got inside look at the process of making maple syrup with our friends at Cooper Hill Maple Farm in Marathon, NY.
Did you know that it take on average 70 gallons of maple sap to get 1 gallon of maple sugar?
Built in 2012 by the Boice family, Cooper Hill Maple has established high-quality maple syrup products that are all done on site. Cooper Hill Maple has been a proud member of the New York State Maple Producers Association since 2013 and with the 2016 Host Sugarhouse for the New York State Maple Tour. They have incorporated modern and efficient technology that has helped to streamline the entire process and to produce pure maple syrup.
Large pipes feed the sap right from the trees into their building where the sap goes through the entire process to produce pure maple syrup. It's an interesting process. The sap goes through reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis is a process of typically used for water purification, like what they do on a cruise ship for drinkable water.There is an average amount of 2% sugar content in the sap. Then the concentrated sugar water to two 100 gallon tanks. The reverse osmosis system is considered the brains of the operation.
What is reverse osmosis? It's a semi-permeable membrane that is used to separate water from sugar, minerals, and other impurities. In the maple industry, reverse osmosis is used to keep the concentrated sugar, minerals, and other impurities as concentrated maple sap to finished boiling into maple syrup.
There is an average amount of 2% sugar content in the sap. Then the concentrated sugar water to two 100 gallon tanks. The reverse osmosis system is considered the brains of the operation. The pipes that feed the sap from the trees through the reverse osmosis process and then into these tanks uses a barometric pressure system. It creates a negative pressure which doesn't suck the sap out from the trees, but rather helps it along. After the reverse osmosis process and the sugar water is in the holding tanks, it is them fed into the evaporator. The evaporator, which sits in the middle of the building, runs on fuel oil. Up until two years ago, it ran on wood, like many places have. However, with it using fuel oil, it saves space (no need to store wood) and it only takes one person to run it. With wood, a person had to fire it every ten minutes. It is in the evaporator that the boiling happens. The sap is boiled to reach a certain density and develops the consistency of syrup. The evaporator measures the boiling point and the temperature must be 7 degrees over the boiling point of water. The syrup is pushed into the end of the evaporator into a serpentine tank into the finishing pan. At this stage, the syrup is the right consistency, but you will still have some impurities. The sap is fed directly from the trees, so there are leaves, pieces of bark, etc. The syrup has been boiled, so it is safe to consume at this stage, but you don't have that nice clear syrup that people are used to, and that's what you want. The syrup is filtered through ten plates using high pressure from an air pressure pump that forces the syrup through tiny holes that block any remaining impurities. These minute holes allow only concentrated syrup to pass through and the end result is clear maple syrup.
The light maple syrup is produced at the beginning of the season. It has a lighter, more buttery taste to it. The darker maple syrup is produced towards the end of the season and it has a more robust, richer flavor. Both are delicious! It is just a matter of personal preference to which you might prefer!
Want to see this up close and have a taste of pure NYS Maple Syrup? Cooper Hill Maple is open for tours! Call 607-279-5526 to arrange your tour.
Join them for Maple Weekends: March 18 & 19 and March 25 & 26 from 10am to 4pm each day!
291 Cooper Hill Road, Marathon, NY