There are many maple syrup producers don’t do anything special to preserve their gradient after they put their pan “to bed” for the day. They accept that some mixing will occur between now and the next time they boil and they simply allow the gradient to gradually re-establishes itself the next time they boil.
However, if you are interested in maintaining the gradient as much as possible between boils, here is a procedure that will help. You may also use this procedure when you are draining your pan for cleaning in the middle of the season.
- Make sure the fire is totally dead. Firebox should be cold. We do NOT want your sap to still be boiling/steaming when we draw off sap in the following steps.
- Gather several, food grade buckets and label them 1, 2, 3, and so on.
- Using the draw off valve on your pan, fill bucket 1. This is the sweetest of all the sap in your pan because it is closest to the draw off.
- Using the draw off valve on your pan, fill bucket 2. This is the second sweetest of all the sap in your pan.
- Repeat until you have filled your available buckets or your front pan is totally drained.
- The next time you want to boil, start by slowly pouring your LAST bucket syrup back into your pan. This is your bucket of LEAST concentrated sap. You should pour it in the same location as the draw off valve.
- Then slowly pour in the next bucket of sap, again pouring right by the draw-off valve. This bucket’s sap will push the less concentrated sap from the previous bucket back further.
- Continue pouring the buckets back into the pan, pouring them in next to the draw off valve and going in order from the highest-numbered bucket to the lowest-numbered bucket. By pouring the concentrated sap back into the pan in this order, you are reestablishing your gradient. Each bucket of sweetened sap that you pour into the pan will push the pan’s less concentrated sap back farther.