The Art and Science of Making Great Tasting Maple Syrup

In days gone by for generations the coming of spring has been marked by the drip drip drip sound of maple sap filling tin buckets hanging on rows of maple trees. Horse draw sleighs would go by and collect the sap and take it too the sugar house. At the sugar house the sweet buttery almost magical smell of maple syrup boiling would waft into the cool air and beckon visitors into the warmth of the sugar house. Inside, families were gathered, abuzz with work. Some were attending to the fire, by throwing logs on. Others were dipping sap and pouring it into tin pans. Someone was tasting the almost finished syrup to see if it was sweet enough. The visitors would sit and enjoy the sweet warmth as steam bellowed off the pot or evaporator and talk. Making maple syrup was a social event that brought the community together, a rite of passage that meant spring would soon be here. This is a tradition that has lasted since the founding fathers of our country.

Contrast that with some modern day large operations where Maple syrup production has become a science and big business. Using modern production techniques many large operations produce a lot of maple syrup with little of the flavor profiles of traditional methods. What are these technologies?

Reverse Osmosis is one of the main protagonists. Reverse osmosis has a thin membrane that allows water to transfer thru but the sugar molecules are too big. This allows the sugar maker to remove sugar without boiling. This saves them time and money.

High efficiency evaporators run by steam or oil. Large volumes of sap entered and processed and removed quickly. Bubblers inject hot air into the steam in increases boiling rates and decreasing the time it under fire. A vacuum system draws sap right into the sugar house where it is processed. All this is done to increase productivity, but at what cost? The result is a mild tasting sugary syrup I call Tech-no syrup.

At Thorn Hill Maple we understand sugar making is an art as well as a science. We do use modern techniques when we make syrup but we balance it with traditional methods that yield great tasting profiles. We understand that it takes time for the sap to rest before it is processed, and time for the syrup to caramelize in the evaporator. We measure our success not necessarily on the volume of the maple syrup we produce but by the quality of the taste because we put our name on the syrup we make.

From our family to yours we hope your enjoy our great tasting maple syrup and other natural sugars.

-Duane Downing


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