Growing up in New York State, my pancakes were rarely lucky enough to get real maple syrup. When I moved to Vermont, it seemed like one of those unwritten rules that you only use the real thing and my kids have never tasted the likes of Aunt Jemima. But real maple syrup isn't cheap, quite the opposite with a gallon selling for around $40. To understand why it costs so much, you have to hang around a sugar house for a day and watch the magic happen.
No, not your commercial sugar house, more like making moonshine in a backyard still. This is a very small private sugaring operation where things are done the old fashion way; just old taps dripping into metal buckets collected by hand and poured into the holding tank. Just collecting the sap will exhaust you.
At least a little a little modern horsepower is used in the collection process.
The firebox was lit around 11am, and here, at around 2pm we're watching for the first sign of syrup. With a ratio of 40 gallons of sap needed to make one gallon of syrup, it takes a lot of boiling to bring it down.
|Keeping the firebox stoked requires a very steady load of wood.|
When it sheets coming off the ladle, you know it's ready.
|and there it is.|