Many syrup producers are now finishing the maple syrup processing season for 2012 and will begin with post-season cleanup. An excellent manual and guide for maple syrup producers on post-season cleaning can be found in the new Best Practices Manual that is available from the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association. The manual itemizes a detailed and modern cleaning processes, which is acceptable to food processing industries.
Washing, cleaning and sanitizing of all sap and syrup processing equipment should be a priority for all producers as soon as possible. It is best to wash sap tanks, sap tubing collection systems, buckets, evaporator flue pans and finishing pans as soon as possible after the season is complete. Where sugary sap residue, syrup residue and residue from defoaming agent is allowed to dry out, it will be far more difficult to clean the equipment. To minimize the amount of work in cleaning, wash up the equipment as soon as possible. Use scrub brushes on equipment and rinse with warm or hot potable water.
Where cleaning and sanitizing chemicals are used, producers should ensure that cleaning chemicals are listed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as acceptable for this purpose and are available from maple equipment dealers.
In the sugar bush, it is also important to remove spiles from maple trees before trees begin spring growth. Spiles should be removed as dormant buds begin to grow and new leaves expand. Most new wood growth and healing over of tap holes in maple trees will occur in spring and early summer. Leaving spiles in the trees during the growth of new wood will prevent proper healing of tap holes.
Re-useable spiles can also be washed and sanitized soon after the sap collection season is finished, to make proper cleaning easier. Spiles that are disposable should be collected and disposed of properly. Some equipment manufactures and dealers may accept used disposable spiles back from producers for recycling purposes of plastics.