Canning in the Cold

Dallas and Rose helped Amy can earlier this week. They kept an eye on the temperature of the syrup and filled bottles.
Dallas and Rose helped Amy can earlier this week. They kept an eye on the temperature of the syrup and filled bottles.

The maple sugaring season might be at the end of winter, a welcome to early spring, but the maple syrup process is a year-round endeavor.

Merck Forest sells its organic syrup all year from the Visitor Center and online. There is always a demand to have the sweet amber liquid in bottles.

As such, Amy, or sometimes Kathryn, and the apprentices will make a day of it in the canning room.

During the sugaring season, the syrup that is boiled is then stored in large drums. As it is needed, the syrup is then taken from the drums, run through a filter press, heated to the appropriate temperature (between 180 degrees and 200 degrees), and canned into our plastic containers and new glass containers.

Dallas had to pre-warm the new glass containers, so that they would not crack when the hot syrup was placed into them.
Dallas had to pre-warm the new glass containers, so that they would not crack when the hot syrup was placed into them.

The process takes the better part of an eight hour work day (much of that time is spent in the set up and clean up of canning). Especially in the winter when the frigid temperatures can sometimes freeze a hose or pipe.

But, once the water is boiling, the syrup heated, and the whole process working, the canning room is warm…steamy, in fact. As soon as you walk into the sap house, you’ll know our staff is at work because the entire building has that sweet maple smell to it.

Dallas filling the hydrometer. It is important to check not only the temperature of the syrup, but also the viscosity. Canned syrup that is too thick or too thin may not have a good shelf life.
Dallas filling the hydrometer. It is important to check not only the temperature of the syrup, but also the viscosity. Canned syrup that is too thick or too thin may not have a good shelf life.

If you ever stick your head in the door of the sap house, and smell that maple scent, canning is probably taking place.

Check out the new glass growlers of syrup. They are a nice addition to the shelves in the Visitor Center.

Glass bottles of syrup now line the shelves at the Visitor Center.
Glass bottles of syrup now line the shelves at the Visitor Center.