Earth • Wind • Fire • Water
After a frigid Vermont winter, the maple trees that populate our forests begin moving nutrients from their roots to the branches in preparation of sprouting their iconic leaves. The means of transporting those nutrients is the sap, which contains–crucially!–a small amount of natural sugars (1-4%) to protect the tree’s cell structure during sub-zero temperatures.
Maple sap is only viable for syrup production during a precious window in late-winter/early-spring. For around 30 days the weather finds a beautiful balance between warm days and cold nights. It is during these glorious days that we sugar alchemists hone our craft.
With the aid of revolutionary scientific devices like vacuum pumps–which transport the sap directly to the sugarhouse on a current of air–and reverse osmosis machines that remove water, the process is cleaner and more efficient than ever before.
Footprints in the Forest
The history of humans harvesting maple sap to make natural sweeteners stretches back almost a thousand years. Maple sugaring is a form of agriculture that predates the era of colonialism in America’s Northeast region, the only area in the world where it is practiced.
Native Americans held springtime sugaring rituals; Algonquin tribes understood the nutritional value and energy source within maple sap, tying it to their very existence in creation myths.
European settlers, primarily French, adopted the practice from these indigenous peoples. Over hundreds of years and much trial and error, the process has been refined to what we participate in today.
At Backwoods Alchemy Maple Farm we embrace the mystical process of purifying maple sap whilst harnessing the elemental forces of earth, air, fire, and water. Just as medieval alchemy sought to promote health, cure illness, and prolong life, we strongly believe in the curative nutritional properties of our maple syrup. Combined with the physical rigors of maintaining a Vermont maple sugaring operation, it truly is our Elixir of Life!