Answers to Common Questions About Making Certified Organic Maple Syrup
How do our maple Products Become Certified Organic?
We follow the National Organic Program Rules for production and processing of our maple products. No synthetic fertilizers or pesticides are used on our trees. Only certified organic de-foamer is used while boiling the maple sap. We are inspected and re-certified annually by the NH Department of Agriculture Markets and Food.
We also participate in the NH "Seal of Quality" program, meeting specific standards for food quality, packaging and labeling. This is administered by the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture. Participating producers are committed to producing agricultural products of the highest quality and to following best management practices for food safety.
How much Energy does it take to make a gallon of maple syrup?
Maple sap that comes form the tree is 98% water and 2% sugar and minerals. Maple syrup by law is 76% sugar and minerals. 42 gallons of water must be removed from the sap to make one gallon of syrup. The water is usually removed by boiling the sap until only the syrup remains. All that boiling takes lots of energy. The conventional maple syrup evaporator uses 451,150 BTU or 3.25 gallons of fuel oil to make one gallon of syrup.
We use a high efficiency wood fired gasification evaporator and a reverse osmosis process to make our maple syrup. Reverse osmosis is a filtration process where most of the sugar and minerals are separated from the water in the sap. The concentrated sap is then boiled into syrup on the evaporator. Energy consumption is dramatically reduced to the point where in our sugarhouse it takes only 58,882 BTU or the firewood equivalent of .13 gallons of fuel oil to make one gallon of syrup. The firewood is sustain-ably harvested from our maple orchard and the electricity for the reverse osmosis machine is made here by harvesting wind and solar power.
How do sugar maples make their sweet sap?
The sugar in maple sap is made during the growing season and is a product of photosynthesis. The photosynthesis process uses energy from sunlight and turns it into sugars that are used both during the growing season and stored in the tree during the dormant season.
Warming weather in the early spring causes maple trees to thaw on a warm day and freeze again at night. The freezing and thawing create negative and then positive pressure inside the tree. As the tree freezes and the tree pressure becomes negative, water is pulled from the ground through the roots and all the way to the uppermost branches of the tree where the water mixes with the stored sugar and becomes maple sap. When the tree thaws, the tree pressure becomes positive and the sap can flow into our sap collection system.
Does Tapping Harm the Maple Trees?
Taking the sap from the maple trees does very little harm. Normally we take a very small percentage of the tree’s sap, resulting in no detectable slowing of the annual growth rate. We have been tapping some of the same trees for 35 years and those trees remain healthy.
In order to take the sap from the tree, we drill a hole into it once each year. If not done properly, this can cause problems for the tree. Each taphole is a wound that the tree must heal. Trees heal their wounds by sealing off instead of repairing the damaged tissue. Normally, the tree seals off the taphole in one growing season and creates new wood to cover the hole. Until sealed off, the new hole serves as a possible access route for diseases and insects. Healthy trees can fend off infections and most insect attacks.
The greatest risks to our maple trees are the Asian Longhorn Beetle, Climate Change and invasive plants such as Oriental Bittersweet and Japanese Barberry and Japanese Knotweed.