While modern research and science has taught us so much about producing maple syrup and why exactly its healthier than any other all natural sweetener it is still unknown who deserves the credit for making the first maple syrup. The most common legend is native Americans prior to European settlement noticed sap coming out of the trunks of damaged trees. This prompted the natives to collect some of the sap in birch bark buckets. Then at some point the natives tried to cook something such as venison (deer meat) in the liquid and noticed it got sweeter and sweeter.
While its not know how or who exactly discovered pure maple syrup first, it is widely accepted that the techniques to produce maple syrup and sugar were passed to the European settlers from native Americans. For roughly 300 years not much technology changed in the sugaring industry until the last 30-40 years. During these last 30-40 years a lot has changed in the process but the syrup is still as pure.
In Summer…bright green leaves on sugar maple trees combine sunlight, carbon dioxide from the air, water and soil nutrients through photosynthesis to produce food energy for tree growth.
Fall frosts…bring on spectacular leaf color displays causing food energy to be converted into starch.
In Winter…trees store the starch in root tissues waiting for the warm sunlight of Spring to touch their branches. The starch is then converted into sugar, an energy boost for young leaves. This sugar mixes with moisture from the ground within the trees to form sap.
By today’s standards, a sugar maple is usually at least 40 years old or 12 inches in diameter at chest height before the sugarmaker considers it for one tap. When Spring temperatures reach 45º F during the day and nights remain below freezing (25º F is perfect), the sugarmaker drills a hole in the trunk of the tree and taps in a spout with either a hook and bucket or plastic tubing. Sugaring season begins!
Furthermore sap averages 2-3% sugar and looks like clear water. The sugar content of syrup is 66.9%. The sugarmaker will gather around 40 gallons of sap for each gallon of syrup that he makes. Each tap will yield a little over one quart of syrup during the season.
Our family has been tapping some of our trees for over 200 years! At one point we put out about 2200 buckets out each season and gathered the sap from those buckets everyday. We do still hang some buckets on trees around the sugarhouse but the majority of our sap is collected by a tubing system.
Lastly once tapped, the sap is gathered and brought to the sugarhouse where it is quickly boiled down. The only ingredient that goes into pure maple syrup and other pure maple products is tree sap. We use a large (5′ x14′) stainless steel evaporator fueled by a roaring would fire. Once sap is concentrated enough the fresh syrup gets filtered, graded, checked for density, and packed into stainless steel barrels for storage. The syrup season ends when warm Spring temperatures coax the leaf buds to unfold, leaving the sugarmaker to pull the taps, and clean the equipment.
For some sugarmakers however, the work doesn’t stop when the sugaring season is over though.
At Green’s Sugarhouse we sell almost our whole crop retail at craft shows, farmers markets, online or at the sugarhouse. Our stainless steel barrels are stored in our walk-in cooler. Storing the syrup barrels in a walk in cooler we are ensuring that the pure maple syrup we put in our retail containers and other products is a fresh as the day it was made! Periodically throughout the year the syrup is taken out of the cooler and canned in retail containers or made into other products for your enjoyment.
At Greens Sugarhouse we may not produce as much volume as our competitors but we put or emphasis on producing the highest quality maple products on the market. Our Maple Syrup, Maple Cream, Maple Candy, and Maple Granulated Sugar are all one ingredient pure maple products made only by removing different amounts of moisture from the tree sap.
Every one of our products we produce in small batches throughout the year to ensure our customers receive the freshest product possible! Not one that has been sitting on a retail shelf or in a warehouse for a long period of time.
We love interacting with our customers, educating them about the health benefits of pure maple syrup, and how its made.
If you have more questions or want to learn more about sugaring follow us on Facebook at Green’s Vermont Maple Sugarhouse, on Instagram @greenssugarhouse or sign up for our Emailing list. You will also be notified about new products, enter in our free giveaways, learn recipes to use pure Vermont Maple and much more.
Thanks for taking the time to read!