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Jnana's Red Barn

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With Valentine’s Day here, a lot of people are thinking of chocolate.

In northern New England and neighboring Upstate New York, however, some folks are paying attention to the maples and the moment the spring sap starts to run.

Traditionally, the trees were tapped and the sap was collected in buckets like these, although the commercial growers today are more likely to use plastic tubing, pumps, and large, centrally placed metal tubs, among newer systems.

While the unprocessed sap has a lovely taste, it’s more like sugar water than anything you’d put on pancakes. Getting it into syrup means boiling it down – 20 to 50 gallons of sap are needed to make a single gallon of syrup.

In earlier days, before the widespread availability of sugar, the principal sweeteners were honey or maple syrup. Hard to imagine that now.

And while Vermont has made itself synonymous with maple syrup…

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