Industry

Getting there

So it is not quite time for maple syrup yet. I am still stuck here in Alberta for another 12 days of work before I head back out east again.

In the mean time it looks like Josh of sap Sasquatch is off and boiling. Check out this video he just posted.

I am a sugarmaker from Josh Dolan on Vimeo.


Battle Maple Syrup

Chef Brand Farmerie vs Cat Cora in an amazing example of how versatile maple syrup can be for cooking.

 

 


Sugar Bush Fall Cleaning

Syrup Season #4  is getting Closer!! Dave and I have been busy with New Projects and Syrup Season Prep work. I had some Visitors come and Help with the Fall Cleaning. The Robinson Family. Not the Swiss Version,the Echo Bay Crew.  Julie John Emmett and Puppa. Thanks Again for All the Help you Guys.

They took to the lines with Clean clean clean in mind, They did a Stellar Job just like the last time.

Our fall cleaning is part of the “get ready cause here comes the season” prep work we do at Saptosyrup. With roughly 4 months to go. (give or take a few weeks depending on what Mother Nature and her Friend old Man Winter do. They’ve been an Unreliable pair in recent years) The Season will come fast, as it always does and whatever we can have Ready when it hits saves us a Lot of time.

As a result of a Mini Bike accident I got to watch from a chair… Its not so bad hehe

Here are some Pics we have of the day of. Julie and Puppa avoided the Cameras But put in a solid effort in the Bush…. Thanks again Guys.

Deer Damage

Deer Damage

 

Emmette Manned the Water Pump

Emmett Manned the Water Pump

 

Who the Heck is.... oh its Johhny

Who the Heck is.... oh its Johhny

 

Squirrel Damage

Squirrel Damage

 

Emmette says Clean clean clean

Emmett says Clean clean clean

 

Its a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood....And look there's Mr Robinson....hehe

Its a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood....And look there's Mr Robinson....hehe

 

 

Enjoy


Change in Maple Syrup regulations.

Hello all you maple syrup lovers. So it looks like there are going to be some changes in the maple syrup regulations. Who knows when that is going to happen but we at sap to syrup want to give you the whole story on what the proposed changes are, this was taken directly off of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website:

The elements of the proposal to modernize the grading, the classification systems and the labelling requirements for maple syrup that would be considered under the MPR are:

1. Definition and Requirements for Maple Syrup
The definition of maple syrup would be worded to ensure consistency and uniformity with other regulatory regimes by requiring that the maple syrup be produced exclusively by the concentration of maple sap or by the solution or dilution of a pure maple product other than maple sap in potable water.
The proposed framework would maintain the current minimum soluble solid content of 66.0% and would add the maximum soluble solids of 68.9%.

This is basically means there is a top and bottom number to solubility of maple syrup. It makes sense to have a number that there is a ceiling now. It is going to be a bit more challenging to fit right in that range but it will make a more consistent product. Also if you like think think syrup than I am sorry the government will not let us sell you any, so there is that.

2. Grade Standards
An international maple syrup standard would be adopted to include only two grade standards (Grade A and Processing Grade) to replace the current three (Canada No. 1, Canada No. 2 and Canada No. 3) as defined in sections 4, 15, 16 and 19 of Schedule I, of the MPR.
The grade could also be accompanied by taste descriptors to reflect consumer preference, such as for good-quality darker syrup. Such darker syrup would no longer be required to be graded and labelled as Canada No. 3.
Grade A maple syrup would be comprised of four unique colour classes and the following requirements would need to be met:
Uniform in colour
Intensity of flavour (taste) normally associated with the colour class
Free from objectionable odours, off-flavours, and fermentation
Free from turbidity or sediment
Processing Grade maple syrup would require to be labelled “For Food Processing”. It could be any maple syrup that does not meet Grade A requirements. Processing Grade maple syrup could have any of the following attributes:
May be any colour class and any light transmittance
May contain off-flavours**
May be very strong tasting syrup
**Off-flavours are defined as any specific and identifiable or unidentifiable flavour or smell defect that is not normally found in good quality pure maple syrup that may be related to natural factors (i.e. woody, buddy) or the production, handling, or storage (i.e. burnt, chemical, mould) of the maple syrup.

So now there are two classes of syrup instead of three. Makes sense to me, it is either perfect or it is process grade.

3. Colour Classification and Taste Descriptors
Four colour classes (Golden, Amber, Dark, and very Dark) would replace the current five (Extra Light, Light, Medium, Amber and Dark). Light transmittance classes have also been adjusted for syrups with a light transmittance less than 75% Tc (as described below). Four taste descriptors (Delicate, Rich, Robust and Strong) normally associated with the colours could complete the label. The taste descriptors could be used to assist consumers and ingredient users in matching their syrup purchases with their specific preferences or needs.
The quality descriptors and a general description of each of the four colour classes of Grade A maple syrup could be as follows:
Golden Colour and Delicate Taste
Maple syrup in this class has a light to more pronounced golden colour and a delicate or mild taste. Light transmittance is not less than 75% Tc.
Amber Colour and Rich Taste
Maple syrup in this class has a light, medium or darker amber colour and a rich or full-bodied taste. Light transmittance is 50 to 74.9% Tc.
Dark Colour and Robust Taste
Maple syrup in this class has a dark colour and a more robust or stronger taste than syrup in lighter colour classes. Light transmittance is 25 to 49.9% Tc.
Very Dark Colour and Strong Taste
Maple syrup in this class has a very strong taste. Light transmittance is less than 25% Tc.

So they are moving from 5 different types of syrup to 4 which seems to make things a bit easier for labeling. I don’t really know about the word “Golden” it makes that class of maple syrup sound lit it is the best when it really is not. It should also be said that to make light or “Golden Syrup” you have to boil it down really fast. You can also use an R.O. machine to help make more “Golden”. Basically only the really large producers with a huge amount of infrastructure have the best chance to make this type of syrup. We will have to see what happens in the future but I like “light syrup” rather than “Golden”. I think it reflects what it is without needlessly making it sound better than it is.
Also the Taste description is something else that seems to be a bit of overkill. There are already a TON of regulations on how to label maple syrup. Would we have to put all of this information on each bottle? Do we only need to have the description that is associated with what is in the bottle? Maple syrup bottles are going to start looking like news channels with so much information that you don’t even read it, you simple glaze over. If you also have to label the your bottles with a description verbatim it would be a bit much. We know how to sell our syrup, We know a description that will work for our demographic and our customers. If there is anything I have learned from working it the advertising industry is that committees make stupid decisions. I don’t want to have to stamp my product with something a bunch a bureaucrats came up with, it cheapens our product!

4. Traceability
All graded maple syrup would require mandatory production codes to production lots on the label to quickly identify, respond to and advise the CFIA of potentially unsafe maple products.

Again is this a bit of overkill? We have our address on each bottle of maple syrup, we also have our website which lets anyone get in contact with us. We also have social media. We also put a batch number on each of our products and take pictures of us making our maple syrup. We want to be 100% transparent to our customers, if you have any concerns we want to hear them.  So what are these production codes going to look like? Where do we get a production lot number? There are a few unknowns that could potentially be a big pain in the ass.

5. Country or Province of Origin
All graded maple syrup would require mandatory country or province of origin on the label.

We already do this so sure.
If you have any other questions about these regulation your not alone. Mainly for us is the timing, which directly effects what we are going to do for this year in terms of bottles and labels. We talked to the head of the OMSPA and he told us they are not going to take effect this year but the deadline for comments is December 7th, 2012 so is it going to pass in January? Please take some time to visit the CFIA website. I urge you send some feedback to the government on this issues, tell them what you think because we are going to do the same.

Thanks for reading!

 


What is going on with Maple Syrup Labeling?

So we have heard a lot of talk about changes to the labeling of maple syrup for the 2013 season. Many producers on St. Joseph Island are hearing there will be a new way of labeling for this season. I wanted to get right to the source so I contacted Ray Bonenberg the President of the Ontario Maple Syrup producers of Ontario. Check out there website, we are not a member yet but we might be moving in that direction.

 

So when I phoned him up to get some Facts, he told me that he had just spoken with members of the federal government and it does not look like the new label legislation is going to be ready for the 2013 season. He had already contacted the maple syrup equipment suppliers so that they could make sure to print the correct labels on their packaging for this year.

 

He also mentioned that the new labeling would likely be a slow roll out so that producers with old labels or bottles could use them for the 2014 season if it went though. Though that is not a guarantee.

 

So why change the maple syrup labels, well it will make it consistent for all producers in all provinces and states that make maple syrup. That way the consumer is not going to be confused about what type of maple syrup they are purchasing. Sound good to me, simple is good.

 

Anyway check out the video of his operation, Cheers.

 


SAPSQUACH MAPLE PRODUCTS In New York State

Hello all
I have just read an article on Saptosyrup’s friend and fellow Maple syrup producer Josh Dolan of Sapsquach maple products. He has joined in the fight against Fracking in New York State. To learn more check out the article http://www.ecocentricblog.org/2012/02/02/our-hero-josh-dolan-sapsquatch-pure-maple-syrup/#comment-13294
Josh’s fight will help save and protect the Maple Syrup industry amoung others in New York state.
Good luck Josh


Maple Syrup Japan

I came across this video the other day and I was floored. I had no idea that they were making maple syrup in Japan. I did not even know they had sugar maples there. It is an interesting technique they use to drill the hole by hand. They also don’t use spiles or they use a small rubber pipe and they tie the bucket to the tree with rope.  They also tap the tree really far down.

Here is the translation that google came up with for the video.

Sugaring
By popular demand, last year we will continue to hold a “sugaring”. Experience is an event to make maple syrup from the sap of maple it is not possible only a few of the early spring period.

In addition, this video is a state of the same event last year.

 

 


Central New York Tapped in.

Look Like Central New York has lots of sap happening and not much snow. I think it is going to start pretty early this year. I have been keeping an eye on some of the videos posted to Youtube. It looks like Elizabethtown, Pa has 2012 maple syrup. Some places in Vermont are also tapped in an getting ready to produce. So it is coming soon for everyone I don’t see why Northern Ontario would be an exception!

 


Martha Carlson no Maple Syrup by 2100

I just found this video on youtube today about a scientist and maple syrup producer Martha Carson. She is doing some work down in New Hampshire figuring out if the maple trees are in distress down there or not.

Climate change is something we all have to be aware of especially being an agricultural business. Mike and I keep some pretty good records of what is happening in the bush but it would be good to know if we can help this cause in any way.

Take a look at the video and see what you think.


New Maple Syrup Resources

I just recived an email from a new website called http://www.sugarbush.info.

This site was lauched “in an effort to list pretty much anything the Maple Syrup industry has to offer online.” So that sounds like a pretty Nobel cause and a resource that all maple syrup producers can use.

It is a pretty new site, launched in January 2011 but already they have over 500 listings of sugarbushs in both the United States and Canada.

This is definitely a site I am going to check out from time to time.


Natunola gets a maximum of $312,250 to make maple syrup for diabetics

Someone put me on to this article about Natunola which is a Biosciences company and manufacturing plant located in Winchester, Ontario. The idea is to change the sugar in maple syrup into “isomaltulose“. This product is already used in a number of low calorie beverages and food.

There are a number of different players in this Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affair, The National Research Council of Canada, University of Guelph Kemptville Campus Agroforestry Education and Research Center and Maple Ridge farms.

I hope they are successful and since the grant money is coming from the government of Ontario I expect that the patent will to free and open to everyone! But I am sure that will not be the case.

you can read the news article here:

http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/May2011/27/c8180.html


Maple Syrup better than once thought

John found this article on  Sootoday

Turns out that the sweet nectar of the Gods has more antioxidants than previously thought. I think this is great news.

So now our maple syrup is a super tonic.


The New Bloor Street Festival – 2010

I had a great time at The New Bloor Street Festival this year. It being the first year I did not really know what to expect. I wanted to get a place right on the corner of Russet and Bloor right above Hair Wave where our old apartment was.

It was great to talk to some of the people in the neighborhood. When I was living up north I didn’t know that there was a community in Toronto, I always thought that people kept to themselves and were distant to each other. Dominic at Hair Wave was, I think, the first person to teach me how vibrant and friendly Toronto can be. It was sad to hear that he would be closing his doors only one week after the festival was finished, after being there for 31 years.

The New Bloor Street Festival was put on by two great chaps Dougal Bichan and Sid Bruyn. I watched them running back and forth all day long organizing every little detail. There were also lots of great volunteers helping out. They did an amazing job and I can’t wait until next year. I wonder if they will still call it “New”?

We also had a chance to chat with some amazing people at the Starving Artist Waffle Booth. If there is one thing on the planet that goes perfect with maple syrup, it is waffles. We provided them with some of our very special Dark Syrup and it seemed to be a real hit.

There were ton’s of interesting people stopping in to say hello. One of them was a member of the Toronto Beekeepers Co-op of Toronto. They told me about a really cool plan to tap the trees in the parks of down town. Dufferin Grove park, right near my apartment, has about 20 or so really nice sized Sugar Maples most of them double or triple tappers. I think it is an amazing idea! The more sweat nectar of the gods we can get the better. This year they were able to tap silver maples and red maples but the city would not let them tap any of the sugar maples. Kind of makes you scratch you head but……. there you go.

All in all it was a great time and it gave me a chance to talk Maple Syrup with everyone who wondered by.


Lead testing part I

Mike and I are in the process right now of upgrading our equipment so that we can bring more of the sweet nectar of the Gods to you.

The problem with a lot of the used evaporator pans out there is that they are lead soldered which is considered to be a health risk.

We want to provide our consumers with the best quality product that we can so I thought I would post some of the research that I have done in this respect.

First I found this great consumer report.

http://blogs.consumerreports.org/safety/2007/10/testing-the-lea.html

It rates 4 different lead inspectors and how they work, the following is taken from the consumer reports website:

Homax Lead Check, $8
Lead Check Household Lead Test Kit, $18.45
These two kits consist of cigarette-shaped swabs, made by the same company, that turn pink when they detect lead. They were the easiest to use and identified accessible lead in toys, ceramic dishware, and vinyl or plastic. If lead concentrations are low, these swabs can take up to two hours to change color, but in our tests high concentrations produced immediate results. The eight-swab Lead Check Household Lead Test Kit pack is a better bargain than the Homax two-swab pack. Its packaging was less susceptible to being crushed.

Lead Inspector, $13
Swabs turn yellow, brown, gray, or black if lead is detected. It can take up to 10 minutes for a color change to occur at low lead levels. The kit, with eight tests, identified accessible lead and might be a good choice for painted metal jewelry. It also might be superior for pink or red items, because if those shades of paint bled onto a Lead Check swab, it might falsely appear to be positive. Have good ventilation and wear gloves to protect skin from chemicals.

First Alert, $13
The four test swabs provided are similar in design to those used in Lead Inspector. But we experienced some false negatives for accessible lead.

Pro-Lab Lead Surface, $10

This kit was less sensitive and more difficult to use. Two small pieces of treated paper are cut to create six tests. The paper is moistened and rubbed on the object, but we found the paper often fell apart before the two-minute rubbing time was over.

Both Lead Inspector and First Alert have videos which showcase these kits

The following is a copy of the email I sent to all the these lead testing kit suppliers:

Hello

My name is Dave Chapman and I am a maple syrup producer. Over the past few years our industry has been phasing out lead soldered pans for producing maple syrup.

We are currently looking to upgrade our equipment but want to make certain that any used equipment  we buy is lead solder free.

does the testing kit that you carry have the ability to do this.

Thanks and I hope to hear from you soon.

If anyone out there knows of another company that provides these testing kits or you have had experience in these matters please let us know.


Royal Winter Fair 2009

This was the first year that I decided to check out the Royal winter fair held in Toronto. I would have never gone if it was not for my sister who was taking care of the Guelph booth at the show, thanks Sis. It gave me a chance to see some of the different farmers in Ontario and was a really interesting experience. I have never really been interested in farming growing up, I was always looking forward to getting out of the small town and into the big city. The Royal winter fair kind of was the best of both world.

I talked to all the maple syrup producers at the show, everyone had great insight and was very helpful. Two booths let really talk their ear off and even let me shoot some video. The first was from White Meadows farms. Richard was really nice and gave me some great tips on maple candy making. It turns out that they won best maple candy at the show last year so I am sure he knows what he’s talking about.

Next I had a chance to talk to Tracy Moore at Everything Maple. I have talked about her in an earlier post. She really went through everything with me and was happy to do so. She even gave me a few books to about packaging maple syrup. The great thing was the she knew all of the maple syrup producers from the island. You can really tell in the video that she is passionate about what she does. It was great to get to know other members of the Ontario maple syrup community outside of the island.

Now I know that the winter fair was a months ago but I have not had a chance to get everything off the camera until last week. I also want to apologize for the shakiness of the camera and the strange viewing angles. It was pretty loud and I wanted to make sure I got the sound I needed. Anyway, now that I have built it up, please enjoy.



New Design – fresh maple syrup

I wanted to take this time to congragulate the new maple syurp website of Tig Tillinghast for his new web design.

The site looks amazing and is much easier to navigate, really an amazing job.

Tig has some really great stories and ideas on his website which is why he is number one on my blog roll. I love his last idea of putting maple syrup in kegs, I really hope he figures it out.

Love the new URL and the site design Tig, keep on boiling!


Sap to Syrup Business Plan

Alright so I’m sitting here, procrastinating really, getting ready to write a business plan for our Sugarbush.

There’s been a lot of stuff happening in recent days. Mike and Steph (Mike’s fiancee) have successfully cut split and piled 15 cords and wood which will be our fuel this year. This is a definite load off my mind. Mike keeps me really well-informed but I still feel a little apprehensive as I haven’t seen anything, Mike still is not taking any pictures. (I think he wants it to be a surprise)

I have the daunting task to write the entire business plan for the Sugarbush. This is going to help us organize everything that we need in order to push forward. It’s also going to solidify the plane both Mike and I have.

It still doesn’t mean that I am going to enjoy this, I’m written business plans before and boy do they ever take a lot of effort, but I guess that’s why they’re worth it.

alright I’ve killed enough time doing this.
Picture 11


Boiling it down

Do you wonder why maple syrup is so expensive? Well the reason that it’s so expensive is because a great deal of energy goes into making it. Below is a video that shows exactly how much wood it takes when you fire boiler. We fire one side of the boiler at the time this way there’s minimal heat loss.

we put about that much wood in the archway every 15-20 minutes, that means that we are firing the boiler every 7-10 minutes. This is of course depending on the different types of what and how dry it is. This year was a bit of a disaster as we ran out of wood and had to spend some of the time burning some not so dry popular.

Mike stumbled across a great website called http://www.woodheat.org This website is full of information in regards to firewood.  My favorite part of the website is the energy per air dried cord or in thousands of BTUs. This gives a list of the most efficient types of firewood to use.

I thought that the best wood to use was iron wood, I might have the wrong name for it though. As I can’t find it anywhere in Ontariotrees.com.  it’s very dense wood that doesn’t grow very large, it has kind of a flaky bark as he gets older.  Maybe somebody can help me.  The bark looks a bit like Black Ash when it’s older, but I don’t think that’s right.


Spiles

There always seems to be new innovations out that say they are going to increase production and save the industry thousands of dollars. This blog post is dedicated to Alan at globurban.com.  He sent an amazing list of all the different maple syrup festivals that are going to be happening around Ontario, thanks Alan.

Alan had great question about spiles and pointed me into the direction of the University of Vermont website. Apparently there has been a new innovation called to check valve spout. It works like this if the vacuum system is turned on than a little ball that’s inside of the spiles is pulled away from the tree allowing the sap to come out. When the vacuum system is turned off the little ball rolls in front of the opening and blocks bacteria from getting back to the hole.   Alan’s concerns seem to be that you’d put excess pressure on the tree by not letting the natural bacteria seal the hole thus taking more sap than the tree is able to lose. Read the full story here.

We will see if this spile will even work this year.  I suspect if you are going to try new product that says it’s going to take more sap from the tree then a producer would tend to under tap.. Most of the syrup produces that I’ve talked to basically baby their bush, if there is something that has the potential to take more sap out of the tree I’m sure it would be tried in moderation. I’m sure it was the same when they came out with a vacuum system. If it works for these innovators than I am sure it is going to catch on.

There’s also been a number of innovations that tried to solve this bacteria problem. Leader Evaporators, which is the company that is selling these new spiles, already has something on their website to try to combat the problem of bacteria.

“designed to be an inexpensive bacteria free throw-away fitting to put in the tree for maple sugar makers looking for maximum production every year.  This rugged extension features a female cup which will accept almost every 19/64 and 5/16 diameter spout on the market”

So will this new little device work, who’s to say?  There is also another type of this spile that we are looking into for our bush, it is a stainless steel spile. Here’s a video of Bill Smith and Keith Brown discussing it.


To Market

Well today was a pretty full day of trying to get maple syrup sales going. I have been working on creating online shopping cart in order to sell my syrup off the website. I’ve got something together the only problem is shipping, I don’t really know exactly how to charge for shipping,  still working out the bugs.

I did however get a chance to go into the post office and I found out exactly how much one liter of maple syrup weighs.

IMG_0881

I’ve also been trying to get in contact with all the different farmers markets that are around Toronto. I contacted an Anne Freeman at Dufferin and Grove Park. She was very helpful  even though she  they already had a maple syrup producer that was selling product. She said that she would pass my name along to some of the other Farmers markets.

I found man named Chad at the Trinity Bellwoods open market.  He was an incredible wealth of knowledge explains me about how to get involved in these farmer markets and what it was like selling maple syrup in a downtown area. (insadently he is the one that sells his syrup at Dufferin) It is nice to know is that my prices are pretty much dead on with his.
Selling the Goods

That’s the nice thing about the maple syrup industry, most producers are happy to help each other out which is fabulous for a newcomer like me, thanks again Chad!

Stay tuned for an update on Mike in the Bush. I had a nice long chat with him today but we won’t get any real news until about Friday a very special visitor is coming to take a look at our operation.

More info on the Famers markets in Toronto.


Hello All

My name is Mike Garside. I am the bush operations guy in this adventure. Dave wants me to start a Blog about what I am doing in the syrup trade. I first should give a little info on myself. I spent 7 or 8 years working for the second biggest Maple syrup producer in Ontario, Doug Thompson’s Maple Products. I tapped trees, cleaned tanks and pans, added mainlines, spur lines, tap lines, repaired squirrel damage check the bush for leaks, worked on the steam system, vacuum system, filtered syrup and I even changed a motor in the old bush truck. During my time there I saw a lot of things that can come up in the bush, so I have a pretty good idea what we will be up against. In my career I have a back ground in electrical and work for a company called Brookfield Renewable Power which owns and operates hydro electric generation stations. I am part of the Maintenance team that keeps the power flowing.
I will start giving Dave so material to post when I get a chance. They maybe few and far between, as I am in the middle of a big project at work, and a million little projects at home. I also only have dial up and that is not going to work for anyone so if you’re interested in what I have to tell stay tuned.


lets get selling

So I’m all ready to start selling my maple syrup through Craig’s list. I must say that I am pretty happy about how it’s going so far. I can’t decide whether I should sell it all directly myself or whether I should find a health food store or grocery store in the area that would like to purchase it. There is still the online way of doing it but again I have a limited supply.

I’ve also noticed that there is maple syrup in this  area that is certified organic. I don’t really know how to go about getting my maple syrup certified organic but I can say it was probably made more “organically” than any other type of syrup in the area (wood fired).

I have uploaded a picture of all of the stuff I brought back from St. Joseph Island. I also finished up the labels that I’m going to put on the maple syrup to drive people to the website so they can see exactly where this maple syrup comes from. I think this is a real selling feature to the product.


Things to Think about

Well there are so many questions to be asking when putting together a new Sugarbush. Right now I’m having a bit of trouble trying to find the right size bottles  to sell Maple syrup in.

The 250 mL bottle seemed to be the most popular but as it turns out I only have one left. This means that I’m most likely going to have to break up some of my great big 4 L jugs into 250 mL.  Fortunately  I have all the equipment I need to do this.  I have also found a comprehensive manual which gives the process of hot packing in detail.

In and I’ve been thinking about is what we are going to name the new Sugarbush. I was thinking about keeping the same name as the URL that I have now,  sap to syrup  I still want to get some feedback and not necessarily do with that in 100%.

Most likely will come up with a short list and then maybe have a poll  to see which one wins.

Mike has a good priceless together  of all the equipment that were  going to need. It’s pretty good starting point and I think that we can cover a pretty comfortably.