Maple Syrup - A labor of love
People are continually amazed by what it takes to make a gallon of maple syrup. If you're unfamiliar with the process, below is some information on how it all works.
- It takes a maple tree that is 10 inches in diameter and about 40 years old
- In the early spring, when the earliest birds are migrating north something is happening inside the sugar maple trees of Vermont. The sap within the trees is returning from its winter hiding place deep within the root system. During this time of year we have warm days and cold nights which build pressure inside the tree.
- This sap is taken from the tree in a sustainable manner and is boiled away leaving the sugars, and minerals which make up the distinctive flavors of Maple Syrup. This concentrated syrup is boiled to the point of 66.9% sugar and is then removed from the heat, filtered, and bottled.
- For us, work starts in earnest right after Christmas where we tend to our sap lines, lay out new areas of sap production in the woods and sustainably harvest trees from the woods to give the prized Maples the room they need to grow. Many larger producers start much sooner than we do, but we have things sized about right for our family and work obligations.
- Long ago Native Americans learned that this sap could be collected and boiled down to concentrate and that the sweetness of the sap could be made into sugar which they would use all winter. This process was taught to early settlers who produced large amounts of sugar up until the popularity of sugar cane overtook maple. As recently as the late 1970s & early 80s Maple Syrup production was the main sweetener in homes in Vermont. It was not until the mid to late 90s where it saw a bit of a resurgence due to its great taste, ease for use in cooking, and health benefits, which are now only just being realized.
Producing Maple Syrup takes a LOT of work. Were it not for the love of being in the woods as we care for the trees, being surrounded by family and friends in the sugarhouse during boiling time or being able to share it with our children we would not do it. This is a fantastic Vermont tradition that we love sharing with the next generation and people who have come to appreciate the great taste of these efforts.
If you ever find yourself in the Shaftsbury area and would like a tour of the facility, please feel free to reach out to us...we are happy to show you around. We are a short drive from Albany and Troy New York.
Don't miss the Vermont Maple Open House weekend where you can tour many different sugarhouses and experience the wonderful attributes of each of them.