Maple syrup makes life sweet for the Taylor family
Carrying on a tradition that spans four generations, the Russell Taylor family, of Dunmore, gathers on the family farm to tap the trees and make maple syrup.
Linda Taylor said that maple syrup has always been a part of life for the Taylors.
ﾓThis home place belonged to Russell and Birdie Taylor, who were Rayﾒs [grandparents] and they always did it,ﾔ Linda explained. ﾓWhen Russ and Birdie quit, Roy and Ray started and weﾒre carrying on the tradition.ﾔ
The process begins by mid-February.
ﾓRay always tried to open the trees around the fourteenth, after Valentineﾒs Day,ﾔ Linda said. ﾓThis year we got started a little later. You usually have them open until around the last of March, thatﾒs when the sap starts coming up in the trees. It takes cold nights where the ground freezes and warm days where it thaws. The trees really run then.ﾔ
With roughly 30 trees on the farm to tap, Linda receives help from her step-sons, Steven, Matthew and Adam, and their children. Her son, Jacob, is also on hand to help out.
Once the trees are tapped and buckets are filled, the sap goes through a time consuming process.
ﾓWe strain it into 55-gallon drums, then boil it down and keep adding water to it,ﾔ Matthew said. ﾓItﾒs strained about four or five times depending on how dirty it is.ﾔ
The mixture gets moved to a vat in a small, homemade building to boil for several days.
The sight of the family sitting on benches around the vat, breathing in the sweet smell of the boiling syrup, is reminiscent of Native American sweat lodges, where they would restore their mind, body and soul.
The structure and vat are what Russell and Birdie used when they began the tradition.
ﾓThis is the old way to make syrup,ﾔ Matthew said.
Adam explained that most maple syrup is now made in a more conventional manner with machinery like an evaporator.
While they wait for the syrup to reach perfection, the family utilizes the boiling liquid in a unique way.
ﾓWe put eggs and hot dogs in to cook,ﾔ Linda said. ﾓIt gives them a sweet taste.ﾔ
Linda also uses maple syrup as a replacement for brown sugar in her meat loaf.
The Taylors make up to 160 quarts a year, if the trees are running well. Matthew explained that 50 gallons of the sap/water mixture makes one gallon of maple syrup. A full vat can yield 11 gallons.
Although most syrup makers sell what they produce, Linda said they keep the syrup in the family and also share with close friends.
As the fourth generation of Taylors put the finishing touches on this yearﾒs harvest, the fifth generation observes and assists, waiting for their turn to continue the family tradition.