REGARDING MAPLE SYRUP AND ITS PRODUCTION
1. How many taps could a tapper tap, if a tapper could tap good? (Repeat 3 times - fast) 500 on a good day
2. How many years does it take to grow a maple tree large enough to tap?
Forty years is the approximate time needed to grow a maple tree large enough to tap. A tree ten inches in diameter is considered minimum size for tapping. On a good growing site, and if treated well, a maple tree can be tapped indefinitely. Some of the trees we tap were saplings during the Civil War.
3. How much sap does it take to produce one gallon of syrup?
It takes about 40-50 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. Each tap yields an average of 10-20 gallons of sap per season: that yields one 1/3 to 1/2 gallon of syrup per single tap tree. One gallon of pure maple syrup weighs 11 pounds.
4. How long does the sugaring season last?
The normal maple syrup season in our area of Vermont lasts 4 to 6 weeks, but sap flow is heaviest for 10 to 20 days, sometimes starting as early as February in southern Vermont and lasting into late April in northern Vermont. Sap flowing in high volumes is called a "run." Warm sunny days (above 40 degrees F) following frosty nights (below freezing) are ideal for sap flow. The harvest season ends with the arrival of warm spring nights and early bud development in the trees, usually a few days after the frogs start chirping.
5. What state is the largest producer of maple syrup?
Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the United States. Most of Vermont's syrup is produced in the northern half of the state.
6. Does tapping the tree do any permanent damage to the tree?
No. Tapping does no permanent damage to the tree. If spouts are pulled promptly after the season ends, the trees begin to heal, having the entire growing season to do so. Good tapping practices include avoiding a previous years tap hole and tapping farthest from the old tapping wound as possible. As an additional precaution, we generally use only one tap per tree regardless of the size of the tree.
7. What is 'certified organic' - isn't it all really organic?
Yes mostly, but pure maple syrup is a 'wild crop' in the organic regulations, harvested and processed with sophisticated methods and equipment. It is no longer made on a commercial scale by primitive methods of heating a pan of sap with a wood fire. Sugarhouse practices have evolved toward more energy efficient and labor saving processes, involving some sophisticated equipment. This equipment needs to cleaned and maintained in a manner that protects food safety and purity. And, in order to be certified organic, these processes are inspected and must be documented.
Sugarbush practices have also evolved toward techniques that are less damaging to the trees and the soil. The picturesque image of teams of horses and sap buckets has been replaced by networks of plastic tubing. These networks are usually permanently installed and are suspended from the trees. Great care needs to be taken to avoid damaging the support trees. A 'wild crop' must be harvested in a manner that ensures that such harvesting will not be destructive to the environment and will sustain the growth and production of the 'wild crop'. Organic inspections of the tubing network and of tapping practices, and of road maintenance occur every year to assure that tree and soil health are protected.
In addition, accurate and strict record keeping must be
maintained to document when and how much syrup was produced and where
it ended up. This audit trail assures the consumer that their syrup was
actually produced in accordance with good practices. So it is not only
about what materials have been applied to the sugarbush, it's about the
long-term sustainable management of the sugarbush itself; implementing
practices that maintain tree health and working to ensure the long-term
preservation of the forest ecosystem.
8. Can you use maple syrup as a sugar
substitute in recipes?
9. What is the difference between pure maple syrup from Vermont and maple syrup from other states?
All pure Vermont maple syrup must meet exacting standards for color, density and flavor. It can be pulled off the shelf and tested at any time by a Vermont state inspector. No other state enforces and protects maple quality like Vermont. To remain competitive, Vermont producers need to produce consistently high quality, properly graded syrup. Vermont sugarmakers are also very aware that they are carrying on a long, proud tradition of excellence.
10. What is the meaning and importance of the term 'SINGLE SOURCE?
Most pure maple syrup for sale in the U.S. was produced by a sugarmaker - somewhere in the northeastern United States or Canada, and then sold in a barrel to a middleman, who then sells it to a syrup packer, who sells it to a store. The term "SINGLE SOURCE" means that all of our syrup was carefully produced and packaged by us. You know exactly what you're getting, who produced it and where it came from. That, we feel is an important distinction, in this era of mass produced, mass sourced, and mass marketed food. If you care about where your food comes from, "SINGLE SOURCE" is an important guarantee that your syrup came from a single, careful, family operation, nestled on the north side of Hillsboro Mountain in Starksboro, Vermont - and no where else.
11. Should my maple syrup be refrigerated?
Yes, after you have opened your container and the seal
has been broken. Shelf life of maple syrup is indefinite if unopened whether
in a jug, can or glass. However, if you have had it in your pantry or
cupboard for a period of months, it can darken a grade. The flavor will
not change. If you forget and leave your opened syrup on the shelf for
a few days, it may develop a mold on the top of the jug. This is completely
harmless, however if this occurs, simply skim the top and discard, reheat
the syrup to a boil and then refrigerate.