Sap to Syrup
All our sap is hand collected in small batches using no machines. Evaporated over a hardwood fire to about 15-30 brix before being finished in a small pot over gas heat to give us more control over evaporation, temperature and speed of final reduction. You’ll find our syrup full of flavors (see tasting notes below) not typically found in mass produced syrups.
Although our syrup is not as thick as you might expect, it’s just the right sweetness and excellent poured over homemade waffles, sour buckwheat cakes, in tea or drizzled over your favorite ice cream.
Depending on the weather, one may need to collect sap every few days or more than once per day. This is dependent on the size of the tree, the canopy and very importantly the weather. Temps below freezing at night and above 40°F during the day are needed along with little to no wind and good southern exposure.
Once the sap is collected, it needs to be reduced down to a syrup. Sap can contain up to 2% or 3% sugars, but more commonly it’s at 1%. This means it takes 40-50 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of finished syrup. Also, “sap” is actually more like slightly sweetened water and is not viscous or sticky as one might imagine.
Finishing your syrup is done by slowing down the reduction process from a “boil” to a simmer, after all you don’t want to reduce it too much or you’ll end up with an overly sweet thick product more like Log Cabin than real maple syrup. Depending on who you ask, your finished product will be about 7°F above boiling to be considered finished.
Here is where Poe Run syrup is different. First our finished sap is measured in brix, not by temperature so we have better control over the sweetness. Second, because we are not cooking the finished product with hundred or thousands of gallons of sap as most mass produced syrups, we are able to retain flavors often ruined by heat and exacerbated by continuous reduction.
Tasting Notes for 2019 Batches
Total Yield: ~25 pints
BATCH 19-02/1 - Our first 2019 batch started with about 35 gallons of sap which was then naturally frozen enough to pull off at least 6 gallons of water before we started our boil. This made not only our reduction time shorter, we got a great yield. This batch was filtered before final reduction, but not after, resulting in a little residue in the bottom of each jar. After settling this batch is perfectly clear.
Favors - Caramel, brown butter, nutty, hint of cinnamon. No bubblegum/cotton candy smell or taste.
Mouth Feel - creamy, top palate, very little bitterness
Color - Rich red amber
Sugars - 67 - 69 brix
Yield - 7 pints
BATCH 19-02/2 - Our second batch started with about 25 gallons of sap collected over 2 days. None of the sap froze as batch 1 so there was a lot more cooking time to get all the water evaporated. Final syrup was bottled at room temperature and must be refrigerated.
Favors - Rich caramel, vanilla, honey, roasted nuts after notes of maple, but not on the nose.
Mouth Feel - thick, slightly bitter but tastes very sweet for its sugar content. This batch has a more traditional viscosity .
Color - Hint of red in chestnut brown
Sugars - 64 brix
Yield - 3 pints
BATCH 19-02/3 - Took 2-days to evaporate about 40 gallons of fresh sap. Four gallons of reduced sap at 21-22 brix was pulled off and is now going through its final reduction. BATCH 3 is unique in some of it’s flavors which could be due to 3 “new” trees that were tapped, one of which is very prolific. She produces upwards of 5 gallons of sap in a good day, has a beautiful canopy and stands tall overlooking our apple orchard.
Favors - Smoked molasses, buttered popcorn, rich honey, bark, caramel
Mouth Feel - slightly viscous, coating the tongue and mouth completely like a spoonful of melted butter
Color - Rusted Carmel
Sugars - 65 brix (but tastes like 70+)
Yield - 5 pints
BATCH 19-03/1 - Is currently evaporating and started with over 50 gallons of sap after at least 5 gallons ice was removed thanks to some low overnight temps. We’ve decided to add another 20 gallons of sap to this batch as the weather and some projects have not been cooperating to give us time to get the evaporator going again.
Well we finally have this batch in the final reduction. It was pulled from the evaporator at almost 40 brix (very high for us) due to the large amount of sap and mother nature helping by freezing almost 30 gallons. This meant we had 3-4% sugar in almost 20 gallons of sap!
Favors - Sweet caramel, toasted butter, vanilla, toasted nut, no bitterness
Mouth Feel - Top palate with a smooth creamy texture
Color - Deep Caramel
Sugars - 67 brix
Yield - 8.5 pints
BATCH 19-03/2 - Was evaporated on our outdoor gas stove due to the limited supply of sap, <25 gallons. This was the last batch for 2019 sad to say, but 2019 proved to be a long and prosperous year.
We decided to keep with the wood burning tradition, but in this case the final reduction happened on our wood heat stove (our only source for heat and hot water on the mountainstead). It took about 12 hours to reduce this by half after pulling it off the outdoor stove and still has a little finishing to go through. It never came to a boil during final reduction thus all residual sugars and minerals would be left for the final canning.
Favors - Vanilla cream
Mouth Feel - Buttery
Color - Red Amber
Sugars - 68 brix
Yield - ~3 pints