From sap to syrup to student, UVM gears up for sugaring season

Local News

Vermont is the number one state in the U.S. for fresh maple syrup. Nearly half the country’s crop is produced in the Green Mountain State. And, this time of year marks the start of sugaring season.

But maple farmers aren’t the only ones at work. UVM students are also making, serving, and selling maple syrup right on campus.

“The sap is the sweetest in the springtime so March usually, early April,” said Dr. Timothy Perkins, Director of the Proctor Maple Research Center with UVM.

Every year, he and his team of students make nearly 1,200 gallons of pure Vermont maple syrup for UVM’s dining centers. Brandon Williams is the Sodexo Executive Chef for UVM Dining. He says it’s not only served to students but also incorporated in many recipes.

“In the morning for breakfast, its pancakes, waffles, and french toast…we use it as a seasoning for soups and sauces, and it’s always popular in smoothies,” said Williams.

UVM Senior Nigel Waring helps make it from scratch at the research facility in Underhill.

“My earliest memories are sitting in the sugar woods and my brother babysitting me. I pretty much spent my entire life growing up in the sugar woods, and I kind of know it like that back of my hand,” said Waring.

He and his father maintain a sugarhouse back home, just north of St. Johnsbury. Waring says they’re in the process of tapping 5,500 trees and hope to tap 7,000 by the end of the season.

In order to go from sap to syrup to student, Waring says a great deal of work needs to take place. 

“It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup,” said Waring.

That’s because the sap is a watery substance and only 2 percent sugar whereas maple syrup is roughly 66.5 percent sugar. Students like Waring have to remove the water through a lengthy boiling process. 

“And this year, we’ve served about 800 gallons of their syrup so far,” said UVM Dining’s Sustainability Manager Marissa Watson.

She says almost 20 percent of the school’s food budget supports local products. One of which is UVM’s very own maple syrup.

“We live in a state that produces such a special crop and we’re just excited to celebrate here on campus and share it with the students,” said Watson. 

Waring says he wants to increase awareness about UVM’s maple syrup research facility. 

“There’s not a whole lot of information on Proctor and how the stuff we’re eating in the dining hall is actually from Proctor. (Promotion) on social and in the dining halls would be really cool,” said Nigel Waring.

Those interested in trying it, can enjoy it in the dining center or purchase it in the bookstore.

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