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Getting started

Jumping into the sweet life…

It’s hard to believe but just six short years ago we bought a book called “The Sugarmaker's Companion: An Integrated Approach to Producing Syrup from Maple, Birch, and Walnut Trees” by Michael Farrell (highly recommended!!!),  tapped 3 sugar maple trees, broke out the turkey fryer and stock pot – and jumped into the sweet life. Our first few bottles were actually pretty good…and we were hooked. Little did we know that just a few years later and we’d be working with state-of-the-art equipment in a dedicated sugar shack. Jean (the boss around here) will tell you this is what happens when hobbies go unsupervised – so be careful.

After those first few bottles, over the next couple of years we worked with a variety of larger flat (evaporator) pans, bottle gas burners, finishing pans, and fabric-based filtering systems to produce our maple and walnut syrup. [Hint: fabric filtering mediums are a challenge. If you’re thinking about a sugaring operation, consider a small manual filter press to help you finish the product. You won’t be sorry.] We had a lot of fun in these early days…made a mess of the garage a few times…and learned a lot. During this time we served as a “research cooperator” with Dr. Farrell (see author reference above) to help collect data on the viability of walnut syrup production on a commercial scale.No photo description available.

In the summer of 2015 we built the Sugar Shack. This xx by yy yellow pine sugar shack (with yy ft. ceilings and a xx ft. cupola) has proven to be a great home-base as we’ve upgraded our equipment and processes to what today would be called a high-end hobby level operation. With the support of some great vendors/partners we’ve moved into a fully stainless (food grade) storage facility, a dedicated (wood-fired) evaporator, an RO machine, a UV device and a filter press. (See resources section for detail.)

It’s a sweet life…