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March 14, 2013 By adminEveryone’s favorite Canadian astronaut/YouTube sensation is back to explain how food tastes in space. The answer: different! Sort of. As soon as you enter orbit, your Read More »
March 14, 2013 By adminExpecting better season than last year The sap at sugar bush farms in New Brunswick is flowing ahead of schedule, which has maple syrup producers expecting Read More »
March 14, 2013 By adminHADLEY, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – No plate of pancakes…or waffles… is complete without a helping of syrup. But how is this sticky goodness made? Well we Read More »
February 01, 2013 By admin“Natural maple flavor,” caffeine, butter flavoring, and invert sugar are just four of the ingredients that make up the unholiest of breakfast condiments, Wired Wyatt’s Caffeinated Syrup, Read More »
August 06, 2012 By adminWhat do glaciers, maple syrup and lobsters have in common? They’re all symptoms of global warming — the worldwide process of climate change that has become Read More »
Tag Archives: maple syrup news
Everyone’s favorite Canadian astronaut/YouTube sensation is back to explain how food tastes in space. The answer: different! Sort of. As soon as you enter orbit, your body, freed from the shackles of gravity, celebrates by shooting a bounty of fluids into your head and sinuses. So you’ll barely be able to breathe through your nose, much less taste anything.
But once a few days go by, your body adjusts and everything goes relatively back to normal, including taste. So, as Hadfield tells us, you can still enjoy all your favorite Canadian staples: maple cookies and maple syrup in a tube, naturally. But wait—there’s also the more exotic Canadian fare such as “chocolate,” “salmon pate,” and “buffalo beef jerky.” In other words, solidified maple syrup, maple syrup in a can, and buffalo-flavored maple syrup, respectively. Bon appetit
Expecting better season than last year
The sap at sugar bush farms in New Brunswick is flowing ahead of schedule, which has maple syrup producers expecting a much better season than last year.
“This past couple days, it’s been running really good,” said Gig Kierstead, who owns and operates Elmhurst Outdoors on the Kingston Peninsula.
Normally, the sap doesn’t start unit mid-March, he said.
The long-range weather forecast is also encouraging, said Kierstead.
“The only cool spell is during the weekend, which wouldn’t be a problem,” he said. “We’ll have lots of sap to boil anyway” from throughout the week.
Kierstead says cold nights and mild days are needed for a good maple syrup harvest.
“Last year, about a week from now, we had 20-degree weather, which ruined us for the season,” he said.
Unseasonably warm temperatures and floods led to a poor 2012 harvest for most producers in central and southern regions. Some producers in the Moncton area didn’t even put out taps last year.
Kierstead expects the sap will keep running for the next five weeks.
New Brunswick’s maple syrup industry is the third largest in the world and generates roughly $12 million in annual revenue for the province.
“Natural maple flavor,” caffeine, butter flavoring, and invert sugar are just four of the ingredients that make up the unholiest of breakfast condiments, Wired Wyatt’s Caffeinated Syrup, which retails online for $12.99 per bottle, or essentially, $1.85 per ounce. Sure, you could get by with a few crushed-up Vivarins, a family-size jug of Aunt Jemima Butter Rich, and a balloon whisk, but the whole point of using Wired Wyatt’s — with its tweaky label emblazoned with the words “all-natural” and “energy” and Doug Funnie-on-steroids caricature — is to announce to the world that you absolutely adore caffeine. This seems to be something of a trend.
Of course, you may have heard that records of ER visits citing energy drinks have doubled since 2007, so after you uncap your Wired Wyatt’s and while you wait for your flapjacks to bubble through, consider this Wired infographic, which depicts the broad array of caffeine-themed products on the market.
There are over-the-counter “shots,” boosted drinks, nose sprays, lip balms, sodas, “water enhancers,” chewing gum, “energy sheets,” “gels,” pills, and “refreshers,” most of which are underregulated, though the fact that the FDA is investigating potential connections between energy drinks and several sudden deaths would seem to indicate that the multi-billion-dollar “energy” industry sector is about to undergo regulation, so you might as well stock up now. “Americans plow through more than 15 million pounds of powdered caffeine annually,” writes Wired, “enough to fill a freight train 2 miles long, all 270 cars loaded to the brim.” All aboard, indeed.
Somerset County Maple Producers’ Association celebrated another successful maple season this past year during its annual meeting and banquet June 29 at Berlin Community Building with more than 100 attending.
The banquet is held every year after the producers’ harvest season and long after they have put away their equipment and filled their containers.
Everett Sechler, the president of the organization, welcomed the members and guests and conducted the business meeting. Matthew and Stephanie Emerick, Ed Emerick and his girlfriend, Diane Dunmeyer, all representing Emerick’s Pure Maple Products in Southampton Township, which was awarded the 2012 Maple King Award by John Wendel from Somerset Rotary Club, sponsor of the award. Maple king is a contest of maple products held the Friday prior to the Pennsylvania Maple Festival every spring. This year’s contest for maple king had more than 50 camps represented.
Both Matt and his father, Ed, work fulltime for the railroad out of Cumberland, Md., and they produce maple syrup in February and March as a hobby. Both have been maple king in the past.
Joel Friedline, representing Walnutdale Maple Farms, received this year’s Champion Syrup Award, sponsored by PNC Bank. Joel and Mary Friedline own and operate the camp along with Joel’s parents, Carna and Lowell Friedline. Joel’s brother, Jonathan, operates a dairy on the same farm, and Joel helps on the dairy farm as well as operates the camp. It’s truly a family activity at Walnutdale with aunt and uncle, Lynette and Dick Ely, also helping out.
Lynette Ely serves as secretary for the association and read the minutes from last year’s annual meeting. Kyle Hillegas, treasurer, gave the treasurer’s report. During this year, income came from Mountain Craft Days, container orders, membership dues, farm show and fair booth premiums and miscellaneous income in the amount of $53,845.
Expenses went out to advertising, the June banquet, business miscellaneous, Mountain Craft Days, container orders, state membership dues, mileage, postage, state meeting mileage, memorials, festival, postage, tax exempt status and miscellaneous in the amount of $58,057.
With a beginning balance of $14,701, the organization had an ending balance of $10,489 after expenses.
Also during the evening, Mary Friedline, activity director for the association, gave the activities report and reported that this year’s maple king contest was a banner year with many camps represented.
She explained that it had been a busy year, starting with such activities as Somerset County Fair in August and shortly afterwards, Mountain Craft Days in September, and then the Pa. Farm Show in Harrisburg in January, where Somerset County members received good scores.
Melissa Friend, president of the Maple Festival Association, explained that she admires both aspects of the complimentary team of maple producers on one hand and festival board members on the other.
“Both sides work so hard to enhance the maple industry,” said Friend. “There are several producers who volunteer at the festival and we appreciated everyone’s help.”
Miguel Saviroff, Extension agent at Penn State Cooperative Extension in Somerset, congratulated the producers for a good year and encouraged them as a viable county entity.
Queen Maple Hannah Taylor of Boswell said learning about maple production has been a rewarding experience and that she has had a very busy year so far attending various events, like National Day of Prayer, Berlin Block Party and Grantsville Days. She thanked her mother, Gretchen Brant, for being her biggest supporter.
State Rep. Carl Metzgar was unable to attend because he is working in Harrisburg, but Marcia Atkinson attended in his place and presented the producers with a Pa. State House of Representatives resolution.
The directors are Lynette Ely, Gus Kern, Matt Emerick, Kyle Hillegas, Ron Brenneman, Everett Sechler, Mary Friedline, Gary Blocher and Mike Lynch coming on board for the first time.
A musical group called ‘Prayzer’ presented the entertainment for the evening and several door prizes were handed out amid a severe summer thunder storm.
While most people think of corn and soybean crops as those most affected by this year’s weather, the maple syrup crop also took a huge hit.
T&K Farms in Cadiz, Kentucky, is one of the few farms in the state to even produce maple syrup. Tim Wagoner and his family have been tapping trees for five years and have been a growing business until this year.
Between the warm winter and the dry spring, sap stopped flowing and without sap, there’s no syrup.
“We ended up with 37 gallons for the entire year and we had almost 300 more trees that we tapped this year than we had the previous year,”said Wagoner. “The previous year, we made right at 100 gallons.”
There are 826 trees tapped on the T&K Farms, connected by more than three miles of tubes. From the last week in December until the last week in February, sap is supposed to slide through them into huge tubs.
Wagoner said usually, it takes around 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. This year, that number was off, too.
“This year for us and I don’t know if it’s because of the drought or the lack of temperatures, we averaged about 49 gallons of sap for one gallon of syrup. I basically had enough syrup to meet all of my pre-orders and we kept about five gallons for ourselves,” he said.
Although the farm took a hit on syrup sales this year, the Wagoner’s aren’t giving up on the crop. They said luckily, they’ve been able to save each year just in case they had a tough season. Next year, they”d like to tap even more trees.
On April 19, the federal and provincial governments invested almost $700,000 to help four maple sugar producers expand and improve their competitiveness.
The funding will help maple syrup producers Guy Levesque Inc., Érablymax Inc., Érablière Laplante et Fils Inc. and Érablière du Nord-Ouest Inc.
At Érablière Guy Levesque Inc., the project will help expand the establishment by acquiring more efficient maple syrup processing equipment and adding 7,000 taps to existing operations.
Producer Érablymax Inc. will replace 15,000 taps, while Érablière Laplante et Fils Inc. will install 23,000 new taps.
The project at Érablière du Nord-Ouest Inc. involves the conversion of two oil-burning evaporators to a wood pellet system.
The federal government, through ACOA’s Business Development Program, will contribute $530,350 toward the four projects while the province will invest $149,200. The four maple syrup producers will invest a total of $367,510.
History of Maple Syrup – The History of a Sweet Treat
The history of maple syrup is both interesting and informative, providing many facts concerning the sociology of early North America. The first people known to have manufactured maple syrup are the Native Americans living in the northeast part of North America, a long time before the arrival of the first Europeans. Using an early method of tapping the sweet sap of the maple trees, these early tribes rendered the juice into a source of high-calorie winter food. The Native Americans were generous with their technology, showing the first European colonies how to extract the syrup from the trees.
The Europeans were quick studies, introducing their knowledge of metallurgy, storage, and transportation into the process. Their new knowledge became part of the history of maple syrup. The harvested sap was taken to a “sugar shack,” where it could easily be stored in river-cooled buildings. The sap had to be rendered down in a tedious process by being boiled in large cauldrons. The sap had to be stirred often to prevent crystallization. By the 1800’s, the process had been refined and made more efficient. “Country Sugar,” as the maple sweetener was called, was the most common sugar available in North America for quite some time.
Various pumps and dehumidifiers were introduced into the process by the enterprising Americans (another technological addition to the history of maple sugar) but the rendering process remained slow and expensive. The U.S. started to import maple syrup from Canada, particularly from Quebec, a cold area known for its wealth of sugar maple trees, and has been doing so ever since.
In the United States, maple syrup is still a small industry in New England states, most notably in Vermont, and on a smaller scale, Maine and various other states. In America, Canada, and Europe, syrups are broken down into “grades.” The grading system is slightly complicated. It is judged on color, sugar content, and time of harvesting. Read our Maple Syrup Grading Article for more about maple syrup grading. A continuing examination of the history of maple syrup reveals that in the Civil War, most Union households used maple sweetener to boycott cane sugar, which was primarily produced by slaves. Today, maple syrups is a favorite for a variety of dishes throughout the country. It is a perennial favorite for breakfast goodies such as pancakes, waffles, and French toast. It can also be used for cooking, replacing sugar as maple syrup health benefits are greater than brown or white sugar. Maple syrup is also used widely in vegan and vegetarians cooking.
Source History of Maple Syrup
No news that the weather is pretty strange lately and that includes in the Hudson Valley, where we’re amassing broken records at a record-breaking pace: the hottest March, the hottest first quarter, and most recently, the hottest April 15th, when it was 91. Another all-timer (at least at our house) is the annual magnolia trashing, this year the earliest by a country mile.
The pattern itself is always the same: 1) multi-week warm spell, 2) magnolia blooms, 3) seasonally-appropriate frost comes, 4) flowers turn brown. But it used to happen between late April and early May. Then the whole sequence moved back to April.
In 2012, all March. Bloom started around the 10th and was thoroughly whacked when the temperature dropped to 25 degrees on the night of the 26th.
Meanwhile, the combo of February and March was the 3rd driest on record and April is not shaping up well.
I could go on, among other things airing the usual caveat that this is weather, not climate. But I’d rather cut to this not-climate’s effect on the maple syrup industry, as described in the crop reports written by Arnold Coombs, a seventh generation maple syrup producer and packer in Vermont.
Full disclosure: The 2012 crop report abbreviated below was originally sent to me by the farm’s publicist, who thought it might provide a story about the connections between maple syrup and climate change.
Indeed it does. Especially when combined with Mr. Coomb’s reports from 2009 (best crop in the last 75 years) and 2010 (production dramatically below average).
Up, down, up, down, way hot, way not, dust-bowl dry and then hundred-year flooded, the globe is on a violent weather see-saw that is not well described by “warming,” a word that usually evokes something pleasant. “Climate change” is a little better, but not by much. Change isn’t always pleasant, but it’s beneficial at least as often as it is harmful, which cannot be said about the see-saw.
The search for a term that is both scientifically defensible and sufficiently horrifying is ongoing. Meanwhile, here’s an on-the-ground look at the shape of things to come, and following that, links to a few recipes. Maple syrup shortages and price hikes are probably inevitable, but they’re not likely to be crippling, especially given that our local, sustainable sweetener is not only delicious but also, for what it is, inexpensive.
2012 Preliminary Crop Report
By Arnold Coombs (edited and condensed by me)
Following a huge crop like 2011, the 2012 crop had a tough act to follow. The winter weather was most unusual with temperatures well above average. In southern VT and NH we had only two significant snow storms with the biggest being in October.
Because of the warmth and the lack of snow, getting around in the woods was much easier. Most sugar makers were ready to start producing early, but then in the week of March 19th, temperatures hit the 70s for four days in a row and ended our season prematurely.
This year, half of last year’s record amount seems to be normal, which translates into about 70% of an average crop for some, less for others. We estimate the final US production at 18,000,000 lbs. compared to over 30,000,000 lbs. last year. Canadian production looks to be similar. What does that mean for prices? They will be going up. How much? That is still to be determined…
The farmers’ union in Quebec increased the base of syrup price 3% and with other costs rising (what isn’t going up?) we see a minimum increase of 5%…. pricing usually settles down by Late May or early June.
Due to the warmer weather, this year’s crop is running darker than usual, (last year the crop was 30% Grade A Light Amber and this year it is 5%) but the flavor is still quite good and we have plenty.
Personally, I’m delighted. As long it isn’t “buddy” (off-flavored because the tree has started to leaf out) I like the darker grade B better anyway.
Rising maple syrup production in Vermont is sending more sugarmakers across state lines seeking new buyers for their product.
Now, sugarmakers also are looking to Montpelier as legislators debate a bill that the Vermont Maple Sugarmaker’s Association says would make Vermont syrup more marketable on national and international markets. The bill, which passed the Senate and is now in the House Agriculture Committee, would change syrup labeling laws and establish a food safety certification program for sugarmakers.
Sam Cutting Jr., owner of Ferrisburgh’s Dakin Farm and chairman of the Vermont Maple Industry Council, said the voluntary certification system in particular would help sugarmakers in Vermont stay competitive.
The new certification would be administered by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, cost producers a fee between $300 and $500 (the certification would remain valid for a number of years) and involve a safety inspection of equipment and processes at the sugarhouse. It would be primarily for those sugarmakers who sell their product to a larger-scale maple syrup packager.
“There’s a real need, because up until this year there’s been a very large (Vermont) crop,” said Cutting. “If we don’t have this type of certification, buyers may look out of state.”
Just over the border, Quebec sugarmakers already have a quality assurance certification program.
Rep. Will Stevens, I-Shoreham, said last week that he still has some questions about the certification program as it stands. He said he’s not sure about administering a certification program through the Agency of Agriculture.
“It’s already in the conflicting role of development and enforcement,” said Stevens. “I’m not sure that the ag agency is disinterested.”
But he said that it’s not a bad idea to establish a proactive certification in addition to the existing system of quality checks after the maple products have been produced.
The bill would also alter the maple grading system from the current one, established in the 1980s — fancy, Grade A medium, Grade A dark and Grade B — to one that describes flavor and appearance — Golden, Amber, Dark and Very Dark. The four would all fall within the Grade A definition.
The new grading system would bring Vermont in line with the system approved by the International Maple Syrup Institute, which has proposed these changes to regulatory agencies in the United States and Canada by the 2013 sugaring season. Stevens said the USDA has agreed to adopt the new grading system as soon as one state adopts it.
Cutting said the proposed new definitions would help clarify the different types of syrup for consumers, since they also include taste descriptors like “strong” (for Very Dark) and “delicate” (for Golden).
Stevens said a key point for him is that the old system of grading wouldn’t have to be thrown out entirely — sugarmakers would only have one more piece of information to add to their existing labels.
Some sugarmakers, said Cutting, have misgivings about conforming to an international system, and about changing an existing system that they say is perfectly good. But Cutting said this offers more clarification for those unfamiliar with syrup type.
“People wouldn’t buy Grade B meat, but that’s one of the most popular types of syrup,” said Cutting. “We need to sell our syrup all over the world, and be clear to consumers what the grades actually mean.”
Prudent Living, an Upper Valley company offering services, strategies, products and a community that encourage a prudent way of life, including alternative energy solutions, is installing a large solar power system for Hidden Springs Maple Syrup’s new headquarters in Putney, VT. Hidden Springs is a family-owned and operated producer of pure maple syrup, selling on-line across the US. The new photovoltaic system will generate electricity and offset electric utility costs. The new PV system uses seventy-two 235-watt solar modules; the 17-kilowatt system generates enough energy to completely power three average homes. The new post-and-beam Hidden Springs headquarters is heated and cooled primarily by geo-thermal energy.
According to Prudent Living Vice-President Tim Biebel, the photovoltaic system is projected to save as much as 70 to 80% on electricity costs, depending upon usage. “This is a fantastic project,” Biebel stated. “What’s cool is Hidden Springs is making a product from nature– syrup–and now they will be doing that with clean energy from the sun. So, they will be using the sun for both their product and their process. Plus, it’s smart business. They’ve set themselves up for levelized energy costs: every year for the next 25 years they’ll know what their electricity costs will be. They are immune to electricity cost increases, thanks to this new PV system. We enjoyed working with a good environmental steward like Hidden Springs and are excited about the leadership they are showing.”
Renewable energy made so much sense to Hidden Springs that they decided to use an alternative energy solution to power their alternative energy solution. “We believe in renewable energy,” said Hidden Springs Manager Sarah Weck. “Our geo-thermal system powers the building, providing most of the heat in both the store and the attached house. But, the geo-thermal system requires a lot of electricity which costs a lot of money. So, we decided to put solar panels on our huge, southern-facing roof and use free solar energy to power our geo-thermal system. We’re very happy with our decision. Prudent Living has a lot of experience and did a great job explaining the process and installing the system. We look forward to generating so much free electricity with our new solar panel system that we’ll be able to offset energy costs at our other locations.”
Prudent Living is an Upper Valley company offering services, strategies, products and a community that encourage a prudent way of life. Started in 2009 by Biebel Builders, quality home and commercial builders in Windsor, Vermont since 1976, Prudent Living provides customers with energy-efficient architectural design; green strategies for homebuilding and renovation; energy audits; and renewable alternatives such as solar, wind and geothermal. More than just builders of houses, Prudent Living helps people build an intentional life –whether it’s by carefully managing natural resources, spending more wisely by investing in a home energy audit and energy efficient upgrades, or by safeguarding the health of the planet and contributing positively to the environment. The Prudent Living community relies on the dynamic web site, informative blogs and free quarterly Prudent Living e-Magazine for practical suggestions for daily life. The company will soon launch Prudent Living Market, an e-commerce site of prudent products.