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Sticky Situation

Jim Boxberger - Correspondent
Posted 3/6/20

This Sunday, after loosing an hour of sleep, Vicki and I will be going to the Swan Lake Fire Dept. French Toast Breakfast. It is a great way to support our local Fire Dept. and the Maple Syrup …

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Sticky Situation

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This Sunday, after loosing an hour of sleep, Vicki and I will be going to the Swan Lake Fire Dept. French Toast Breakfast. It is a great way to support our local Fire Dept. and the Maple Syrup industry in New York.

In the past, New York State, and particularly Sullivan County had a booming sugaring industry which faded over time due to the fact that corn syrup products started to flood the grocery stores in the northeast in the mid 1970's. Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth and Log Cabin all became household names, but these syrups are only maple flavored and have very little real maple syrup in them at all.

But quality and taste never go out of style and the sugaring industry is making a resurgence in the northeast once again. Country stores, bed & breakfasts, firehouse breakfasts and world renowned chefs are all turning to 100% all natural maple syrup. In Vermont, to protect their sugaring industry, a law was passed that even fast food restaurants must offer 100% Vermont Maple Syrup to their patrons.

McDonalds took the state to court over the law and lost. You have to pay a little more for the real stuff at McDonald's, but it is worth it. If you have never had pure maple syrup (and there are some of you out there) go out and get some as there is no substitute. It can be found almost everywhere, but check to see where it was made, the closer to home the better.

In my kitchen, we have pure maple syrup from Canada, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and, of course, Sullivan County, New York. They all have a unique flavor even for the same amber weight. We usually get the medium amber which is great for almost everything.

Dark amber is stronger and better for cooking as you do not need to use as much to get the same flavor. Light amber is just like it sounds, lighter, but just as sweet. If we had any fresh snow outside, a little bit of light amber maple syrup over a fresh cup of snow makes a great treat for the kids (and adults).

And if you really want to get adventurous you can pick up some supplies and make it yourself. A long time ago when Vicki and I were first married in an era we called B.C. (before children) we decided to tap our maple trees and make our own syrup. Am I glad we did it, yes. Would I do it again, no. It takes about 40 gallons of maple sap to get about 3 or 4 quarts of syrup once it is cooked down.

It is a very time consuming process and when we did it, we did it in our kitchen. I will pause for a moment while people who know something about sugaring cringe. The reason they were cringing was because as the syrup condenses and steam is simmered off, the steam contains some of the sugars. And where steam goes, so goes the sugars, all over the cabinets, the counter top, the ceiling and everything else in our kitchen.

It took months of repeat cleanings to get all the stickiness off the walls. We still talk about that story every year when we go over to my uncle Dan's house to do some condensing in his sugarhouse, which is specially made for cooking sap. The maple syrup we made was good and overall we had a good time doing it, but that is the only time we did it.

Nowadays, we buy our 100% pure maple syrup or get gifts of syrup from some of our customers that have made syrup for themselves and are proud to share their accomplishment. A few years ago, I sold a gentleman a few tree taps (spiles) and some buckets so he could get started making syrup.

The next week he was back to buy everything I had left to expand his sap collecting. By winter's end he had made a maple syrup evaporator that was gas fired and state of the art. Every spring now he brings me in a bottle of fresh made in Sullivan County 100% Pure Maple Syrup.

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