Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Vermont Maple Open House 2017 Photos

Vermont Maple Open House 2017 photos

We enjoyed a great many experiences during our tour of sugar houses on Vermont Maple Open House weekend: Sugar houses in families for generations, some more recently opened, wood fired, wood chip fired, oil fired, a thousand taps to thousands of taps. 

However, every sugar maker we spoke to shared three characteristics: knowledge, enthusiasm, and pride. They all exhibited pride in the family operation, the work, and in their product. And they were eager to share their knowledge as well as samplings of their Vermont made products.

The Vermont Sugar Makers Association explains, Maple Open House Weekend [held on March 25 and 26 in 2017] is a statewide event celebrating sugaring season. Sugar makers throughout Vermont open the doors of their sugarhouses, inviting visitors in to experience and enjoy this remarkable time of year when pure Vermont maple syrup is made. Whether it's the sight of the steam rising from the sugarhouse, the inviting aroma of boiling sap, or the sweetly divine flavor of syrup as enjoyed in traditional sugar-on-snow, visitors are treated to an experience for the senses! 


We first headed out to Burgess Sugarhouse at 251 Irish Settlement Road, Underhill, Vermont.  

The family has about 3500 maple trees. Their maple sugaring venture was started by Bill and Jim's grandparents in 1980, and is now run by Bill, Jim, and their wives and children.

 We took special delight in finding they stocked a wide variety of glass containers of maple syrup, whereupon we can enjoy the visual beauty of the product as well as utilize the ease of pouring these glass containers offer.  

The complementary spread of maple foods embellished the welcoming feeling and enhanced our appreciation for Vermont maple.

Bill and Marsha' s main business is printing bottles for the maple industry - Artisan Printing of Vermont located in Cambridge, Vermont. Click on Facebook page.

We purchased some Burgess Sugarhouse maple syrup in their beautiful glass containers and are sure the syrup will please us as much as the samples did. 

          Part of the enjoyment of visiting sugarhouses is the Vermont Life images view-able as we travel the paved and dirt roads between our stops.

This maple sap bucket points the way to our second Vermont maple sugar maker, Moose Mountain Maple , on 34 Butler Lane, in Underhill. 

    Each small bottle is a sample from a 55 gallon barrel of maple syrup produced with the date of production listed on the cover. 

          William's mom's farm is up the road, however she is here to help her son by welcoming folks as they enter into Moose Mountain Maple - a family run farm. They have 18,500 taps, and state of the art equipment.

Gathering snow for a traditional sugar-on-snow treat.

Complementary sugar-on-snow, waffles with maple syrup, and coffee embellished this Vermont Family sugaring operation's open house.

From Moose Mountain web site, " The same hands that split the fire wood, package your orders".

Sap first goes through reverse osmosis which reduces the water content, then onto four indoor and one outdoor tank each capable of holding 5200 gallons, then onto evaporators/broilers.

The process creates a by product, hundreds of gallons of very hot water that is collected and used to wash the equipment. 

The Butler family has collected maple sap on this property for six generations. Some of the photos on the wall show sap being collected using oxen. 

 This sugar house felt very traditional Vermont: Moose racks hung from the ceiling, deer heads on the wall, country music playing in the background.

Many folks conversing about this maple season and how the sap run has been at 'moms' and at 'Joes' and at ... down the road.

       Vermont, where the landscape is art, the maple producers are craftsmen.

  Our next stop brought us to Davis Family Maple  on 189 Upper English Settlement Road, Underhill, Vermont.

      Lee Davis burns 700 to 800 lbs of wood chips per hour. Burning the chips creates 'Syngas'  which is burned to fuel the evaporators. 

         Nice to meet past work mates and acquaintances at the Maple open house event. Nice to see you Victoria and Sonya, and to meet your husbands as well. 

    Pour your own freshly made hot maple syrup. 

 Next we visited Joe and Laurie Jordan at Bixby Hill Sugarhouse on 52 Bixby Rd Essex Junction, Vermont. They have about 3100 taps on tubes and vacuum. Vaccum helps draw off sap even when sun is not facilitating optimally. Operating since 2003. Updated R-O machine removes up to 87% of the water content before boiling commences. 

Note the animal chewing on some of the tubing. Maintenance of maple sugaring equipment requires diligence and frequent attention.

                  Laurie and Joe collect maple history artifacts and proudly gave us a tour.

                     Joe explained the filtering process that helps insure their Vermont maple syrup is pure, clear, and up to Vermont's high standards for maple products. "Sugar Sand" - minerals that precipitate out from boiling sap (in varying amounts depending on the sugarbush, the soils, and even year to year) has to be removed to make clear syrup. 

Joe graduated college majoring in forestry. Both Joe and Laurie expressed interest in maintaining the health of the landscape. Joe works to remove invasive plants on the property as well as tend to the maple lines. 

Laurie offered some of the history of the site and maple sugaring in general.

  Don't forget to look up, as many sugar houses are dotted with maple sugar historical artifacts.

Next on our tour we visit Brown's River Maple off Rte 128.

The Lemire family (dad and two sons) has 15,000 taps, and uses as much as 44 cords of wood per season to produce maple syrup.

And so our 2017 maple sugar open house tour ends. We 'got maple', watched boiling maple sap made into syrup, enjoyed the sweet smelling aroma, and tasty maple products including sugar-on-snow. The hearty Vermont welcomes and tours at each sugar house were divine and as comforting as the wood fires. 

The views along the way and back home were, well the image below kind of sums it up. It was a lovely experience during a remarkable time of year in Vermont.

View more maple sugar open house photos at https://litterwithastorytotell.blogspot.com/2013/03/vermont-maple-open-house-weekend.html

a people
and tradition
we relish.

 When I die, let me be embalmed in Vermont maple syrup; at least spread my ashes among the maples - sweet heaven either way. 

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