Late Season Update from the Sugar House

syrup pan - primal woods pure michigan maple syrup

Primal Woods Pure Michigan Maple Syrup – Late Season Update

And what a year it has been so far! We just surpassed 1,000 Half-Pint bottles produced; of the Amber, Dark, and Very Dark varieties.  Check it out in our Shop.  But even better than that, is the experience gained in the process, and the ability to include so many of our Community in the making of those 1,000 bottles.  Virtually all new equipment, the Sugar House conversion project, getting the help we needed in collecting the sap, putting up the necessary firewood, bottling, dressing the bottles, and the list goes on.  All of that with only a few hiccups, none of which could stop us.  I’m convinced we can pull off another big expansion for 2019, perhaps our final expansion; we’ll see.  For more on what we’ve been up to this season, read on.

Process and Equipment in the Making of Pure Michigan Maple Syrup

Filter Press

In our Mid-Season Update from the Sugar House, I mentioned that the Filter Press was driving me to distraction; problem solved.  A part required to support one of the 10 filter papers, a sheet of perforated stainless steel, was missing from one of the plates in the filter press.

filter press - primal woods pure michigan maple syrup

Filter press; original defective plate (L), replacement correct plate (R)

In the photo above, the discrepancy is obvious, if you know what you are looking at, which obviously I did not.  A filter paper, under pressure, lies on the face of the plate, and without the perforated stainless steel in place, I was blowing holes in the filter paper.  Game over.  Fortunately the correct part was shipped FedEx next day, and we were back in business.  The filter press now works like a dream, the maple syrup is crystal clear.

Sap Transfer System – Pumps

Since the Mid-Season Update, we acquired and put into service a second Sap Transfer Pump.  In addition to improving our efficiency, this has the added benefit of additional resilience; we can limp along on one pump if the other fails.  I’m very happy with the pump we selected for this application, the Seaflo 12v Water Pressure Diaphragm Pump 5.5 GPM, intended for use in boats and RVs. (That’s an Amazon Affiliate link by the way, no cost to you, small benefit to us.)  Sweet little pump.

Sap Transfer System – Freezing

I did not mention this in the earlier update, because we had yet to experience the problem.  But, there is PEX and other types of tubing in the Sap Transfer System, that have sap in them during normal operation.  Unfortunately this sap would freeze with colder overnight lows, in the 20’s°F.  When it was frozen, I could not start evaporation the next day until I thawed it all out; a real pain, and time-waster.  I’ve added drains in two locations, and “heat tape” in one location where I could not completely drain the line.  I also added a couple of stock tank heaters, 250W each, to the two Sap Storage Totes, to prevent the totes from freezing.

Evaporation – Firewood

Firewood.  This should be simple.  And it is, but we are hand-to-mouth on firewood nonetheless.  We will do better next year; this year we will get by.  No one to blame but myself.

helpers - primal woods pure michigan maple syrup

(L-R) Gene, John (me), Joey and Carl, just a few of the crew

And Last But Not Least, Help!

And what a godsend our helpers have been.  Carl, Jonah, Sheila, Joey, Kimberly, Brian, Tabitha, Max, Gene, Tommy, Sam, Neal, and I’m sure the list goes on.  All omissions are on me, and I apologize now for anyone I’ve left out.  Plus, the love and support of so many of our dear friends and family.  There would not have been much Primal Woods Pure Michigan Maple Syrup, and it would have been a lot more difficult, and a lot less fun this year, without the commitment of these kickass humans being.  On top of that, it makes me almost indescribably happy to have been able to offer them something in return for their service.

The Finished Product – Primal Woods Pure Michigan Maple Syrup

Primal Woods Pure Michigan Maple Syrup - Very Dark

Primal Woods Pure Michigan Maple Syrup – Very Dark

I can’t tell you how often the word “buttery” comes up when people taste our syrup.  With no prompting from me, promise!  It’s almost unbelieveable that sap comes out of the tree, we evaporate most of the water off, and Voila!, a treasure for your taste buds. It is neither your Aunt Jemima’s, nor Mrs Butterworth’s, nor Log Cabin.  Once you’ve tasted Primal Woods Pure Michigan Maple Syrup, there’s no going back to the fakes.

All the best from the Sugar House, to you and yours,


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2 replies
  1. David Wilderrmuth
    David Wilderrmuth says:

    What a thrill to see the emergence of a small business that serves all of the heroes that make it a success!

    Go Primal Woods!

    • John Newell
      John Newell says:

      Thanks David. We have some great people in the house to be sure. And that’s what it’s all about. Looks like we will get a few more days of sugaring; the taps are still flowing crystal clear sap.

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