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  • Writer's pictureChelsea Coelho

'tis the Season

...for maple syrup! We are actually coming to the end of our maple sugaring season here in southern Vermont. We have had a fantastic year. We made more Grade A Golden syrup then we have in many years. And boy, does it taste good! Not only have we made excellent syrup, but it has been the first year our 2 1/2-year-old kind of understands what is going on. He even helped us tap a few buckets around the house. For those of you who are not familiar with maple sugaring, here's the low down...

We are five generations of maple syrup producers, all on the same farm. Maple syrup is produced by boiling down the sap from maple trees to create a concentrate. And we really pride ourselves in the quality of our syrup. We do everything the "old fashioned way." Wood-fired evaporators, gravity fed lines, and no reverse osmosis or vacuum systems. Heck, we really could get by without any electricity if we really had to!

During the winter is when the work really begins. Even though the actual sugaring season is only a few weeks long, there is a lot of prep to do before hand.

My grandfather and dad really do carry the bulk of the work, though now that my father-in-law lives here he jumps in to help all the time. They are out in the sugarbush on weekends (or when my dad is free) cutting down dead trees, cleaning up fallen branches, and just checking the status of our sap lines. As February looms closer, we start checking the weather. In order for the sap to "run" there needs to be a pattern of night freezes/day thaws - ideally from the twenties at night to mid forties during the day (Fahrenheit). We watch the forecast and when we see that pattern coming up we start tapping in the lines.

This year Joel and my dad worked hard at adding new lines in to start expanding how many taps we have- approximately 2,500. Joel is a Youtube junky. He has researched sugaring and sugaring techniques to figure out the most efficient and effective ways to tap. Hopefully his own Youtube channel will be coming soon!

Once the sap starts flowing, the fun begins! We collect our sap from two tanks and truck them to the sugar house. Here they are placed in two holding tanks that sit up high on the road. From there, gravity flows the sap into the pans of our evaporator, and things start cooking. Once the sap is boiled down to syrup, it is filtered and bottle.

I know it seems kind of silly for maple sugaring to be my favorite time of year, but just thinking of the smell of that steam makes me feel like home. If you are a Vermonter, or even a New Englander, I think you can probably relate.

So if you live somewhere where maple syrup is made, find your local syrup producer and visit! Trust me, they would love to show what it's all about! And if you happen to live near Weathersfield Vermont, DEFINITELY stop in at Dana Bros. sugar house if you see steam. Visitors are always welcome!

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