Tapping for the Liquid Gold

MAPLE TAPPINGCABOT-I still can remember the feeling that I first time to try maple syrup, sweet but not greasy. With the pancake and bacon together, the sugar sap was definitely divine. After that, how to make maple syrup always made me curious. The Goodrich Maple Farm was one of the maple production farms around Caledonia area, in Washington County, Vermont. Among at least 16 maple farms, the Goodrich’s Maple Farm attracted my eye-bows because a giant stone as a commercial sign in front of the farm, and there was a huge orange maple leaf on it. I was very stood out. In spring and early summer of Vermont, when you passed by the maple farm, you can see the steam that was raising up from the stovepipe. You even can smell the sugar and feel the sweet.

This year’s February, based on a strong curious, I finally went to Goodrich’s Maple Farm to explore how one bottle of maple syrup from a plain sap to a Liquid Gold. 

It was a sunny winter day, and because of the weather, you can see a whole maple forest clearly. Crossing to the Cabot’s Mack Mtn. Road, a huge maple trees’ field with the heavy snow showed up. Three workers were in charge of tapping 1,800 maple trees. They started in the morning and expected to finish before the sun set.

One of the workers Ryan McCue: “so what we’re doing now is actually tapping the trees. it’s the time of year where the trees are gonna start warming up and we’re gonna start getting above freezing, and that’s gonna cause the tree to draw its liquids from its tap root and start running them up the tree. with the sugar maple we need to collect this and we boil it down to make syrup.”

McCue and other two workers took blue connectors, tubes, a drill and a hummer with snowshoes were working on this maple kingdom. After asking the name, I find out that these were professional equipment: like spou5 5/16’’ H2O, wire tie tool manual twist, plastic ball valve, etc.

Worker Scott Huston explained to me how to tap the trees: “these are out h2o spouts, very forgiving spout. seat very well into the hole. want to make sure to get over that good vacuum. very old, very mature trees. finding that is difficult, so a good, solid, healthy face is the best thing I can go for here.”

In the sugar bush, you see many blue plastic tubes tied as knots on the lower trunks. Compared with this kind of black tubes. there are two thick black tubes with a gauge to monitor the vacuum on the lines.

Another worker Ethan Findlay introduced the functions of the tube system: “This is a pulling vacuum on this line. this is our liquid line of the conductor. the sap will flow down through this line. the vacuum started and it stops here. so it’s a pulling vacuum for these two lines. but as the sap drains down through these two lines, it drains down into the lower liquid line and goes down there.”

Ruth Goodrich is the owner of Goodrich Maple Farm: “wet line and a dry line with our main-line system, so we call that a conductor system. that brings the sap down the mountainside. here we have a vacuum pump at the sugarhouse, and that’s where our highest point of vacuum will be.”

Ruth Goodrich is one of the owners. from starting with 25 maple trees in their backyard, Ruth and her husband have been spent almost 40 years in their maple kingdom that now numbers 95-thousand trees at two locations. she says after the tapping is no time to take a rest.

Ruth Goodrich: “I won’t call it similar to a wedding, of course, but it’s a very busy-busy time. we’re getting ready, cleaning, making sure everything here with the evaporator and all the other associated equipment is ready to go. that it’s clean, that it’s working order, that we have everything the way it should be, so we just throw a valve, and turn a switch and everything runs the right way.”