Behind-the-scenes look at local maple syrup production - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Behind-the-scenes look at local maple syrup production

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With spring soon upon us, local maple syrup production is in full swing across Western Massachusetts.

Williams Farm Sugarhouse in Deerfield gave CBS3 Springfield a behind-the-scenes look at how the raw sap from the trees turns into the sweetness topping your breakfast plate.

Chip Williams, co-owner of the Williams Farm Sugarhouse, said they usually start tapping the trees during the last week of February. That is just a guideline starting point, as weather conditions differ from year to year.

"We just look at the long-range forecasts and see when things are starting to warm up." said Williams. "When we get the warm days and cold nights the sap starts to run."

The raw sap from area trees is delivered to the sugarhouse, but it contains a lot of natural water. About 43 gallons of raw sap is needed to make one gallon of maple syrup. The process to get the sap bottled into the syrup we know and love involves multiple stages of boiling the sap, which evaporates out the water.

A reverse osmosis technique can get that original 43-to-1 ratio down to about 10-to-1. After that, a trip through a huge evaporator will boil the rest down to the syrup. The temperature of the syrup comes out at about 218 degrees Fahrenheit, just above the 212-degree boiling point of water.

During these processes, workers can control and adjust the various content ratios, densities and temperatures along the way to make their syrup come out just right. After all of the water is boiled out, the syrup takes one last trip through a filter, and it's ready to be bottled up.

"The amount of sap you get is related to having the right change in temperatures during the season." said Williams. "[Tuesday night and Wednesday] was a perfect combination. It got into the mid-20s at night and warmed up into the 40s during the day."

While temperatures are the key player in the quality of syrup production, snowfall can have a part as well. Williams said having snow on the ground can help keep things cooler, particularly during these late winter nights.

The unusually warm March last year put an early end to production in 2012. With temperatures cooperating much better this season, Williams Farm Sugarhouse is optimistic about a much better maple syrup season this year.

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