When I asked if it hurt the trees to harvest the sap, Doug, looked a little wary, as if at any moment my teenage daughter and I might run out to the forest ripping taps out of trees to liberate them. I reassured him quickly that we had no plans for ecoterrosim or tree hugging, that we were just curious! After that Doug, the gentleman at Palmers Sugarhouse tasked with answering the questions of visitors about the process, explained how only a very small percentage of sap is taken from the trees leaving plenty of sap in the tree to live sustainably in the forest for years!! Whew! That means many more years of maple syrup, maple cotton candy, maple chili...wait, did I eat all that?
One of my favorite things to do on any trip is experience a quintessential food experience. While visiting Burlington, VT there is no lack of great food experiences, but visiting a Maple Sugarhouse, is one of the best! In the early spring (Early march till mid April) the sap runs in maple trees and enterprising farmers have for hundreds of years, tapped the maple trees and boiled down the sap to a sweet treat we know as maple syrup. From there the syrup is used in many yummy maple products which seem even yummier when enjoyed right in the barn where the syrup is made!! Maple syrup and it's products also make excellent souvenirs for any visitor to bring home.
During a recent trip to VT, we visited Palmer's Sugarhouse in Shelburne Vermont on one if the last weekends it was open for sugaring season. It was late enough that the sugaring operation was done for the season, but the store was chock full of maple treats, and Doug was available to show visitors how the process works and answer questions from "flatlanders".
We arrived on Saturday, just minutes before the annual Easter Egg hunt at Palmer's Sugar House, presided over by the Easter Bunny. We enjoyed watching dozens of local children race to collect eggs during this free event for the community. Any disappointment about not having an active sugaring process happening in the barn was whisked away by the joy of being part of a local celebration for the children!
Once tapping starts, the process is continuous, with sap flowing into the barn through lines across the fields into huge vats where it is boiled down to sweet syrup and bottled.