Maple syrup is famed throughout the United States, Canada and beyond as being a perfect accompaniment to pancakes and waffles. It is a versatile, nutrient-dense amber nectar that has a deep, rounded flavour that is more complex than the pure, refined sweetness of sugar.
On one of my many visits to New York City’s Union Square Greenmarket I came across a unique family-run maple syrup producer from upstate New York. Based in the idyllic Catskill Mountains, Roxbury Mountain Maple is run by Dave and Linda Holscher, and their eight home-schooled children. While I was at their market stall, I met Dave and one of his daughters, Rebecca. After I sampled their scrumptious syrups, Dave told me the story of their business, as well as about how sap from maple trees is transformed into maple syrup.
What kind of trees is maple syrup produced from? Maple syrup is produced from the sap of sugar maple trees (Acer Saccharum) that are grown in Canada and the North Eastern states of the United States. Sugar maple trees, as their name suggests, have especially sweet sap (2-5% sugar) compared with other varieties of maple trees, which makes them perfect for producing delicious maple syrup.
So, how is maple syrup made? The production of maple syrup is a labour intensive process that involves a combination of reverse osmosis, boiling and the reduction of maple tree sap. Dave told me that it takes a staggering 40-50 gallons of tree sap to produce every gallon of maple syrup.
As well as selling four grades of syrup, Roxbury Mountain Maple also produces a selection of maple-based products such as maple candy, maple sugar and a spreadable maple cream. Here is a selection of these moreish goodies to whet your appetite.
Interviewing Dave really gave me food for thought, and increased my love and respect for maple syrup. You can hear the interview by clicking on the play button below.
After Dave finished speaking to me, his daughter Rebecca took some time out from the market stall to give me her take on how helping to establish and run the business has played an invaluable part in both her education and family’s life. You can hear our conversation by clicking on the play button below.