Cold February and March good for maple syrup season

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Thompson - posted Mon., Mar. 18, 2013
Steve Bryer helps out with the filter process. Photos by D. Coffey.
Steve Bryer helps out with the filter process. Photos by D. Coffey.

Fabyan Sugar Shack's Dan Durand has been a busy man this February and March. The cold weather has produced a bumper crop of sap for his maple syrup business. Already he has packaged more than 1,100 gallons. Last year he made 900 gallons. And the season isn't over yet. “It's just been a beautiful, cold winter,” he said.

But it isn't just the weather that's cooperated. He has a reverse osmosis machine that has cut his production time drastically. What used to take him 20 hours to complete he can now finish in two. Normally he'd have to boil 40 gallons of sap to get one gallon of syrup. His new equipment takes that same 40 gallons and removes 33 gallons of water from it. The remaining seven gallons can be boiled down with three wheelbarrows of wood instead of a cord. “It's made it fun again,” he said.

Next year Fabyan Sugar Shack will double the harvest from 4,500 to 9,000 trees by tapping more maples and leasing more land. His lineup of products, with maple in all of them, includes garlic pepper, jelly, cotton candy, peanut brittle, candy, cream and, more recently, vinaigrette salad dressing. This past weekend's open house brought in more than 1,200 people.

Durand estimates that he hauls between 4,000 and 5,000 gallons of sap a day from three collection points. It gets pumped into his tubs and machine at 35 degrees. By the time it reaches the evaporator at 219 degrees, a hydrometer reading confirms the thickness, and the syrup is ready.

“There's no need to go anywhere else,” Durand said.

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