Our Syrup Begins it's Journey to You

Our 5,000 hard-working maple trees are all tapped and ready to go.  A few days of warm weather allowed the sap to run and we had our first boil on Feb. 3 and the syrup is perfect. By Feb. 22, we've made 350 gallons of syrup - that's more than we made in our entire first year when we started in 1999! We're tapping a lot more trees now and have better equipment so we can make more syrup. Work smarter, not harder! We expect we'll be going strong for another month or more.

We put most of our syrup in big 45 gallon barrels and sell it wholesale to a distributor from Canada. The distributor then combines it with lots of other maple syrup and packages it into the generic bottles you see in the grocery store. Check the label to see where the syrup comes from, products from Canada often contain Vermont syrup and we support our friends from the North. The distributor also provides our syrup to restaurants and foodservice locations in the U.S. and Canada. When you enjoy Vermont maple syrup at your favorite breakfast spot, it could be from us!

The rest of our syrup we bottle ourselves at the sugarhouse with a special canner made just for syrup. We store it on racks in a cool place, and when you order from our website, we ship it right to you from our sugarhouse! 

2015 Photos

Sugaring season is long over, but we're re-living it today through the photos of our 2015 season. Looking at them makes us appreciate how short the season is and how important it is to appreciate the little things; like the steamy air that fills the sugarhouse and smells of sweet sap, the taste of fresh syrup from the arch, and the friends that come to see us and learn about Vermont maple. Here are a few favorites. See them all using the link below!

2015 Maple Season Photos

 


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It feels like Christmas to us because we're making maple syrup again!  The sap has been flowing in steadily over the past few days and we've gathered enough to begin to boil to make the delicious sweet stuff, and so begins another maple season! 

Meadowbrook Maple First Year.JPG

Every year, we keep track of how much syrup we make so that we can compare it to the prior year. The official records are scrawled onto a few pieces of scrap paper and tacked to the wall of the sugarhouse. The first year we kept a record was 1999 and we made 189 gallons of syrup. Last year we made 2,069.5 gallons! It's a reminder of the good years, the bad years and, most importantly, how far we've come.

Meadowbrook has been able to adapt and embrace the changes in the maple business through adoption of new solutions and this has lead to our growth.  Donnie leads the charge in being an early adopter of innovation and is truly a remarkable business person. When we think of innovation we often think of technology, but it also means being open-minded to new solutions, creative when it comes to solving problems, and thinking of new ways to be more productive. We, and most sugarmakers in Vermont, have made a lot of changes over the years that have added up to make a big impact on syrup production. We switched our trees from buckets to pipeline, saw the benefits of saving fuel and time with the reverse osmosis system, and another great example is the Tap Track system by Vermonter, Jason Gagne that we installed last year - we've made more syrup using it and decreased our workload.

Like the records on our sugarhouse wall, it's important to remember our history. The time when we put buckets on the trees and collected the sap by walking tree to tree is fading away, but the passion that goes into making maple syrup is still going strong. We appreciate and recognize the innovative minds in the maple syrup industry that have produced great solutions to help us to be more efficient, to evolve, and to help Vermont to continue to be the leading maple syrup producer in the U.S. 

We are looking forward to what we hope will be our best year yet!

Maple Recipes for the Holidays

I love making and receiving homemade gifts for the holidays. Not only is the gift one of a kind and made with love, it's usually more appreciated with a lot less expense to you than buying gifts from a store.  

Every year I look forward to seeing the goodie baskets that come from my Mom's kitchen. They always include something Maple flavored. Family and friends love them and even the mailman and the school bus driver don't go without. 

Here are a few recipes for my favorite Maple treats that she has used over the years. The bread and popcorn recipes are from the 1998 Vermont Maple Festival Cookbook. The bread is amazing, especially with a little butter on top, and the popcorn is super easy and looks great in a little baggie with a ribbon.  The maple syrup pie is a family recipe that I posted in my last post, but I am putting it up again because I just love it that much. It makes an appearance every year at our family Christmas.

Maple Oatmeal Bread
(2 loaves)

3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup hot coffee
1 cup rolled oats, regular or old fashioned
1/3 cup shortening.
1/2 cup Vermont maple syrup
5-1/2 cups bread flour or enough to make stiff dough
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 packages dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 eggs, not beaten.

Combine boiling water, coffee, rolled oats, shortening, maple syrup, sugar, and salt.  Let this mixture cool until lukewarm.  Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water and add to first mixture.  Blend in the eggs.  Gradually add the sifted flour and mix until smooth.  Add enough more flour to make a stiff dough.  Placed in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise  until double in size.  Knead very little and divide into 2 loaves.  Place in 2 well-greased bread pans.  Let rise again.  Bake in 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 1 hour.

Christmas Popcorn

3 quarts popcorn, popped
scant teaspoon salt
1 cup Vermont maple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons butter

Sprinkle salt over popped corn.  Cook butter, sugar, and syrup to 275 degrees on candy thermometer.  Pour over popcorn stirring constantly.  Stir every 5-10 minutes until cooled so popcorn will not all stick together.  

Vermont Maple Syrup Pie

1 Cup Pure Vermont Maple Syrup
1 Cup half and half
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Egg Yolks, slightly beaten
2 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed in 1/4 cup water
1 Tsp. vanilla
1 pre-cooked pie crust

Warm together maple syrup, half and half and butter slowly. When butter is melted, add the egg yolks and cornstarch. Cook until thickened. When almost thickened, add 1 tsp. vanilla. Pour into 8-inch cooked pie shell. Cover top with a layer of real whipped cream. Keep refrigerated. Enjoy! 

 

Sugarhouse on a Saturday Night (and Maple Pie Recipe)!

This past Saturday at the sugarhouse was what it is all about. We had a big crew of people, a lot of sap to boil, and good times. My Mom (the Sugar Mama) made us all fried dough which is perfect to dip in fresh Maple Syrup - if you have never tried this, I highly recommend it. We had both sugarhouses going, the Meadowbrook Maple sugarhouse, and my brother's sugarhouse, which is a smaller wood-fueled sugarhouse. Some people say that Maple Syrup tastes differently based on how it is heated when it's made, and that syrup made over wood has more flavor. Me? I don't discriminate and will gladly sample any and all types and grades of maple syrup :) 

Another delicious way to enjoy maple syrup is in my all time favorite Maple recipe - Maple Pie. I remember having this pie as a kid when either my Mom or my Grandma would make it, and it brings back memories of my French Canadian relatives who are from the Motherland of Maple, Quebecois! Enjoy!

Vermont Maple Syrup Pie

1 Cup Pure Vermont Maple Syrup
1 Cup half and half
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Egg Yolks, slightly beaten
2 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed in 1/4 cup water
1 Tsp. vanilla
1 pre-cooked pie shell

Warm together maple syrup, half and half and butter slowly. When butter is melted, add the egg yolks and cornstarch. Cook until thickened. When almost thickened, add 1 tsp. vanilla. Pour into 8-inch cooked pie shell. Cover top with a layer of real whipped cream. Keep refrigerated. Enjoy! 

My brother uses wood to heat the sap to make syrup. Other heating methods are oil-fired or propane-fired.

My brother uses wood to heat the sap to make syrup. Other heating methods are oil-fired or propane-fired.

Vermont Maple Syrup being made at Meadowbrook Maple on April 5, 2014.

Roundup of the Past Week at Meadowbrook Maple

Finally it's warming up, the sun is shining on the trees, and the sap is running! The sugarhouse is in full steam (literally). So far, we've made about 800 gallons of maple syrup and hope the rest of April keeps us busy.

In other good news this week,  the Associated Press published a video and article on Meadowbrook Maple and the new Tap Track system we installed in our sugarbush. The story was picked up by news outlets all over the U.S. like the Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and Yahoo News. It's exciting to see our little sugarhouse being recognized for being the first in Vermont to purchase the new wireless pipeline monitoring system to help make more maple syrup. 

WCAX, our local CBS affiliate, saw the Associated Press story, and came to do their own story on Tap Track. Judy Simpson did an awesome job and really captured what Maple Sugaring is all about and why the Tap Track System is such a helpful tool for sugarmakers. Click the image below to view the video on the WCAX website. 

WCAX visited this week to do a story on Tap Track, click the image to view the video on the WCAX website. 

WCAX visited this week to do a story on Tap Track, click the image to view the video on the WCAX website. 

All, in all it's been a great week! We'll be boiling again tonight, stop by if you're in the area!

Below is a link to view all of the news coverage of Meadowbrook Maple over the past few weeks.

Fun Fact: Maple Syrup is a Superfood!

Oh how do we love Maple Syrup? Let us count the ways. It tastes amazing on pancakes, it's the best on vanilla ice cream, it's an awesome substitute for sugar in baking, and it's also a superfood! 

In 2011, Researchers identified compounds in maple syrup with similar anti-inflammatory or anti-oxidant properties as blueberries, green tea and other "superfoods." The researchers found that several of these compounds possess properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses.

The findings were presented at an annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California and were published in the Journal of Functional Foods.

So, the urge we have to drink Maple Syrup straight from the bottle is okay? Awesome! Okay, maybe not. 

Researchers say while it is a good substitute for refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup, they discourage anyone from going out and drinking gallons of it in hopes of extracting the benefits. Shucks!

But, Maple Syrup in moderation is good for you. Unlike refined sugar, which growing evidence shows is not good for you in any quantity. This proves what we knew all along - Maple Syrup is the best sweetener known to man!

If this doesn't make you toss your bottle of Aunt Jemima out the window, then we don't know what else to tell you.

published by http://news.discovery.com/human/maple-syrup-antioxidant-110402.htm

 

 

Check us out in the Burlington Free Press!

The Free Press published a well-written article today on the new technology, Tap Track, that we installed in our sugarwoods to help locate leaks in the sap lines. Jason Gagne, who distributes Tap Track, did a great job explaining how it works. Donnie and our sugarhouse were featured as well! Dan and Glen at the Free Press were really amazed by how Tap Track works, and we think they enjoyed sampling our syrup as well :) Click here to read the full article on the BFP website. 

Sugar maker Jason Gagne of Highgate (seen with his son Noah, 8) has developed Tap Track, a system which combines GPS maps, radio telemetry and remote sensors, to detect leaks in the vacuum tubing that carries sap from maple trees to holding tanks. / GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS

Sugar maker Jason Gagne of Highgate (seen with his son Noah, 8) has developed Tap Track, a system which combines GPS maps, radio telemetry and remote sensors, to detect leaks in the vacuum tubing that carries sap from maple trees to holding tanks. / GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS

Burlington Free Press Visits Meadowbrook Maple

The Burlington Free Press published another photo of Meadowbrook Maple in the Sunday paper today. We love the steam billowing from the sugarhouse. Thanks BFP! They are doing a story on the new Tap Track system we installed and it will be published later this week. The caption reads:

Steam billows from the sugarhouse at Donnie Richards’ Meadowbrook Acres Farm in Milton on Friday. Richards has installed the Tap Track system in his sugarbush. Sugarmaker, Jason Gagne of Highgate has developed Tap Track, which combines GPS maps, radio telemtry, and remote sensors, to detect leaks in the vacuum tubing that carries sap from maple trees to holding tanks. The system makes it easier to find leaks and repair them quickly, saving time and money and reducing possible sap contamination.
— Burlington Free Press, March 23, 2014

From the March 22 issue:

Mother Nature vs. Maple Syrup

We have been patiently waiting for Mother Nature to bring the right weather for the sap to start flowing. We need warm days, above freezing, and cold nights. This allows the sap to flow from the tree during the day, and then slow down at night so that the season will be long and bountiful! But, it's been unseasonably cold this year and that means the sap is still in the trees, and not in our sugarhouse. Usually at this time of year, the sugarhouse is in full steam, but we've only boiled a few times so far this year because of the cold weather. We expect things will really kick off next week as it looks like it is going to warm up. C'mon Mother Nature - we have a sweet tooth to feed!