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Home » FOOD AND WINE » VERMONT » Things Maple
Vermont Maple Syrup
Things Maple

By Michael F. Bisceglia, Jr. | November 18, 2011

Is there anything that says “Vermont” more than Maple Syrup?

Sugar Maple Tree
BY & COPYRIGHT: Bruce Marlin

Yes, I’m well aware that maple trees outside of New England produce enough sap to make an adequate and somewhat tasty batch of maple syrup.   And, yes, I understand that some of those trees grow in the land of the pinstripes.   But let’s face it, “Hmmm, boy! Real New York Maple Syrup.   I can’t wait!” – I don’t think so.

It could be the sweetness of the air, or the richness of the soil, or the love affair between the tree growers and their trees.   Whatever it is, maple products from New England maple just taste good. You’ve seen them, haven’t you? The folks are heading back to Kalamazoo or Kansas City, and they’ve got that maple leaf-shaped bottle sitting in the back window of their car or in the middle of their good in their carry-on luggage.

“Ah, I see you’ve been to Vermont.”

“Oh yes, the missus and I had a great time.   We were bringing back some of that maple sugar candy and maple butter...”

“Bet it didn’t make it back to the motel, did it?”

“You got that right.   We were bringing it back for the kids and the neighbors.   Heck, they didn’t pay for the vacation.   We did.”

“My sentiments exactly.”

Vermont produces a quarter of all of the maple syrup produced in the United States Now, keep in mind that it takes about 40 gallons of raw sap to produce one gallon of eatable syrup.   A mature maple tree produces about 10 gallons of sap a season.   The season is between four to six weeks in length from the end of February into March.

Does that give you a clue about the numbers of maple trees in the region?

If you will allow me a slight digression here.   All those calendars you see for McMurdy’s Funeral Home or Joe’s Gas Station featuring a gorgeous fall vista of maples in the height of their color is not trick photography.   Those ARE the trees in the region.   It’s beautiful here!

Maple Syrup Bucket

Now where was I? Ah yes, maple trees... there is a bit of a debate over which produces the better syrup – the black maple or the sugar maple.   Frankly, I don’t know a single New Englander who has checked into that argument.   We don’t care which trees it comes from, we just like our maple syrup. A terrific photo op (and the trees will pose for you) is during the harvest time.   Vast numbers of trees have buckets attached to nails.   Hollow tubes, or spiles, drip sap into those buckets.

I won’t go through the whole process.   Suffice to say, the sugar shack, which turns sap into a most tasty concoction, smells delicious.   A tip for the traveler here – take a scoop of snow and pour some freshly made hot syrup on it.   Oh my!

You’ll find those shacks and accompanying goodie shops all over most northern highways.   Do yourself a favor.   Pull over and step inside.   Oh, and if you’re really feeling generous, try to remember to bring some maple sugar candy, or butter, or syrup home to someone who didn’t make the trip... even if they didn’t help pay for the gas.

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