This spring’s Maple Open House Weekend is well underway, and folks from all over the region have come to join in on Vermont’s age-old tradition of sugaring.
Vermont sugar houses far and wide have opened their doors to hundreds, sharing their techniques, products, and sugar.
“Vermont has this huge heritage of maple sugaring, and it goes back to horses and buckets on the trees, and it’s really come a long way since then,” says Allison Hope, the executive director of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association. “The spring open houses are really a way for them to share their love of forestry and agriculture with everybody who walks through the door,” she says.
Shelburne Sugarworks is just one of almost 100 sugar houses and maple partners participating, owned and operated by Steven Palmer and his family. Palmer is a third-generation maple producer.
“My grandmother started this back in 1940 when there was a sugar shortage during the war, and they started making maple to supplement the sugar,” Palmer explains.
So far, Palmer has seen hundreds of visitors come through his doors.
“It’s incredible. This doesn’t just benefit the maple industry, this benefits Vermont’s economy across the board, there’s hundreds and hundreds of people coming from across the country that come in,” Palmer says. “Hopefully they learn a lot about maple and a lot about our heritage here in Vermont.”
Shelburne Sugarworks is offering tours, samples, and demonstrations. Palmer’s brother-in-law, Matt Fisher, is also a sugar maker and explains how the product makes it from tree to table.
“The tubing brings the sap to the sugar house where we store it, we run the sap through a reverse osmosis machine to remove much of the water,” Fisher explains.
“Through the machine, it’s pumped to a holding tank upstairs where it runs into the evaporator. Concentrated sap comes in, and as it flows through the evaporator, it gets warmer, thicker, and at the end, that’s when it’s maple syrup,” Fisher says.
Fisher notes that maple is extremely versatile. “You can get maple syrup, you can get sugar on snow, you can get maple cream, maple candy, or even maple sugar, and what’s really great about this, they all come from sap from a maple tree,” he says.
If you missed the festivities this weekend, the open house is still taking place next weekend, April 1st and 2nd.