This past weekend, The Vermont Maple Festival was held in St. Albans, Vermont. Vermont is well-known for producing maple syrup (aka liquid gold) and the tradition runs generations deep. Growing up, it’s one of the things that I remember with fond memories. Collecting sap and sitting in sugarhouses socializing and embracing what helps to make Vermont, Vermont. In the spring, a sugarhouse is main point of connecting with others, catching up while working and there is nothing in this world like the smell of the sweetness in the air and tasting hot, fresh syrup.
Last year, I went home during sugaring season. This is when the sap is running, the syrup is boiling and the fresh made gloriousness that is maple syrup is sitting in barrels waiting to be sold. It had been quite a while since I had been home during maple season and was lucky enough to have my dad bring me around to some of Vermont’s sugarhouses. He is the World Famous Tim after all.
If you’re unfamiliar with sugaring, here is a quick explanation:
Each spring, when the world begins to thaw from the previously, frigid winter, the sap begins to run from the maple trees. Think of the sap like a sweet, sugar water. The sap is collected and boiled in evaporators using heat generated from wood or oil fires. (If simplified, think of a giant, rectangle pot boiling.) The purpose is to boil out the water to a certain extent and the remainder is maple syrup. Rule of thumb, it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. Maple syrup also had more calcium than milk and is a natural sugar – so it’s good for you! All of this is done in sugarhouses.
So in honor of sugaring season coming to an end and all the hard-working folks out there getting ready to clean their equipment, attend maple shows, sell their products and wanting a break, I wanted to feature a few sugarhouses that I saw on my last spring trip home. They come in all shapes and sizes, traditions old and new. One thing is for certain – we all can’t get enough of the liquid gold!
Do you have a tradition in your home state?
I’m strongly convinced that maple syrup and/or cheese can be put on any kind of food. I’ve yet to be proven wrong.
For a great recipe – check out my recipe for Maple Peanut Butter Pie!