When I married, I gained not only a husband, but a lifetime supply of pure Vermont maple syrup, courtesy of my father-in-law, Bob Hession. Bob produces his own small batch of “liquid gold” on his maple-treed Vermont farm every spring.
Vermont maple syrup production, also known as “sugaring,” typically starts at the beginning of March and runs for six weeks. During this time, temperatures that alternate between freezing and thawing prompt sap to flow from the trees. Vermont’s maple producers, or “sugarmakers,” collect the sap by drilling small “tapholes” into the trees. The tapholes are then fitted with a spout, which conducts the sap into a large bucket or to network of tubes that carry it to the sugarhouse.
The Hession Sugarhouse is small and rustic, with room for the large metal boiling vessel, or evaporator, and a small group of maple enthusiasts. There is also the requisite cupola on the roof, through which the steam produced by the boiling sap escapes. Pure, rich and dark amber-colored maple syrup is produced by vigorously boiling the sap, removing water and concentrating the liquid.
It takes about 40 gallons of sap to yield just one gallon of Vermont Grade A goodness. It’s liquid gold, indeed, and the perfect flavoring for fall recipes.
—By Julie Hession
What more maple syrup? Here’s another Relish story.