Maine Maple Sunday Was a Fun Education and a Yummy Diet Killer
I learned so much on Maine Maple Sunday, including how production has changed since I was a kid checking sap buckets with my grandfather.
You've Never Been to a Maine Maple Sunday Event?
It was my first year attending a Maine Maple Sunday event at a sugar house. Hard to believe, since I've lived here all my life, but I never thought to go to one. I mean, I learned about making maple syrup from my grandfather. But I'm so glad I got to see how it's done now and wish my grandfather was here to see it too. He'd be impressed with how much easier it is. The folks at the Williams Family Farm in Clifton were very helpful with their education on the modern methods of maple syrup production.
How Did Your Grandfather Do It?
Grampy Campbell lived in Washburn and tapped trees for as long as I can remember. He used to hang his sap buckets off trees located behind the chicken barn, across the road from his house. When we'd visit, my brothers, my Dad, and I would all put on our warmest clothes and tallest boots to wade through the snow and check the sap buckets. Grampy would have a firepit, where he'd usually boil down the sap, right there in the woods. He stored the sap in a 55 gallon drum until it was time for boiling it down. Then he'd build a big fire and place a 6X10 foot pan over the fire, steadying it with rocks under the edges. He'd spend all day hauling in firewood to keep the fire going, before filling pint, quart, and gallon jars with the sweet, sticky syrup. By the time he was finished, he'd end up with approximately 6 to 10 gallons.
What's Different With the New Method?
So I was fascinated when I walked into the sugar house at Williams Family Farm in Clifton and saw the Steam Evaporator. This is a picture of the amazing contraption that boils down large amounts of sap, sending the steam up through two metal chimneys. Some of that steam would cool on the way up and drop back down, where it was caught in a tray, and used to continue the process. Amazing. Grampy C would have loved it. He would have marveled at the fact that it took him all day to produce a few quarts, while the Steam Evaporator can multiply that by hundreds in a day.
What Goodies Did You Take Home?
Of course, a visit to a sugar house on Maine Maple Sunday includes buying some maple products. I couldn't resist the maple cotton candy, which is one of my favorite things in the world. I also picked up some maple sugar, maple sugar-coated cashews, some blueberry peach jam, honey sticks, and a tin of dark amber maple syrup. Yup, it's a sugar high for me that will last all week. And I'll love every minute of it.