It’s been a very productive summer, here in Huntington, Vermont. While sugaring season lasts a few short weeks each year, the preparation happens throughout the summer and fall. Read on for news from the sugar farm and for some great maple recipes!
Firewood is on the agenda for the months following sugar season. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup, so that’s a lot of evaporation. Our maple syrup is cooked over a wood fired arch and we generally need about 12 cords of wood per season.
All of our firewood comes from downed trees, or from trees that are shading trails and inhibiting undergrowth. We follow a forestry plan and the guidelines from Audubon’s Bird Friendly Maple Project to ensure we’re harvesting trees sustainably.
Trail mowing and line repairs are part of the sugarbush upkeep. We’re fortunate to have a trail network throughout our sugarbush that allows for access to the sugar lines. The trails have to be mowed each summer to keep the forest from taking over!
Summer is also the time to prepare for fall and winter mail orders! We’re excited about our new glass jugs with our updated logo. We hear from customers that these jugs are great as repurposed water bottles and vases!
The Maple Kiosk has had lots of visitors this summer! Stocked with maple syrup in all shapes and sizes, the kiosk sits in a picturesque field with mowed paths and mountain views. If you live in the area, let us know you’re coming and we’ll leave you a map for a sugarbush walk! You’ll find the kiosk at 50 Aestivalis Hill, Huntington, VT.
Animals in the Sugarbush!
Our sugarbush is home to lots of animals. While we see deer and all kinds of birds, the game cameras help catch the more stealthy residents. A healthy sugarbush means healthy animals!
Blueberry bushes in Vermont are laden with fruit this time of year. Try this Maple Sugar Blueberry Sauce and Blueberry Gin Fizz for a great way to use this antioxidant rich fruit!
Maple Sugar Blueberry Pie takes your regular recipe to the next level! Serve with vanilla ice cream and you will help ease all end of summer woes. Click on the picture for the recipe.
If you’re lucky enough to have lots of peaches, or you can buy a crate of fresh peaches, try canning them for a burst of summer flavor in the winter. Here’s our recipe for Peaches Canned in Maple Whiskey Syrup.
Lastly…..here are a few pictures from our neck of the woods.
Sugaring 2021 is here! Sugarers all over the northeast are welcoming the season we prepare for all year long. The sugarhouse is ready, the wood has been stacked and drying for 10 months, the sugar lines are stretched from tree to tree and the taps are in! Everything that can be prepared in advance is done, and the rest is up to Mother Nature. Sugarers rely on cold nights and warm days. The global warming trend has sugarers worried and this year has been no exception. March started out very cold and then a string of 60-70 degree days put an early end to the season for many. We are fortunate to have survived the warm week, in part due to our high altitude, a little luck and Matt’s ingenuity! We’re hoping to get in several more boils before the weather warms up for good. Read on for news from the farm, recipes and more.
This warm weather has been a topic of conversation in the sugaring community and around Vermont in general. After a long winter, most people are thrilled for a quick change in temperature. So why are sugarers still yearning for freezing nights and a slow thaw? The answer is in how pressure is created within the sugar maples during the freeze and thaw cycle. When the temperature falls below 32 degrees, water and nutrients are sucked up through the tree’s roots and combined with the stored starch (sugar) created through photosynthesis in the summer months. As the temperature rises above freezing during the day, the sap is released out through the tap holes. When the weather is consistently warm, this pressure isn’t created within the tree and the sap stops running. Sugar content in sap can vary, but on average it take 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. Luckily, the forecast has now shifted and Vermont will see a week of freezing nights ahead!
We’ve updated our logo!
Our original logo was created by our wonderful friend and colleague, Jesse Clarke. We loved the image of the Couching Lion with the sun and maple leaf rising above it. As we’ve gained traction as a Bird Friendly Sugarbush, we thought it might be good to add a migratory songbird, change up the font and make a few other slight tweaks. Local business, Gotham City Graphics helped us reimagine the new logo.
We’re celebrating one year with our Sugar Dog!
Last year, on April 1, we did what so many Americans were doing during the pandemic: we adopted a little dog. Archie was a stray in Texas and there was little in his bio to suggest he actually wanted to live with humans. But…anyone who has ever had a dog knows the best one for you will come along, and he sure did. Archie has learned the joys of living indoors, sleeping in beds, playing with toys and eating whenever he wants. It turns out he’s also a great farm dog. He stays nearby, loves Gator rides, hangs out in the sugarbush and actually can’t get enough his humans.!
Pictures from Sugaring 2021
Sweet Treats for Spring
Maple Walnut Cake
The combination of maple and walnuts is an ultimate crowd pleaser. This cake is also delicious without the frosting. Bake it in a muffin tin or brownie pan for speedier and equally wonderful treat.
Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottoms of 3 greased 9-in. round baking pans with parchment; grease parchment.
Cream butter and maple sugar until light and fluffy. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating after each addition. Fold in walnuts.
Transfer to prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 11-13 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks; remove paper. Cool completely.
For candied walnuts, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; saute walnuts until toasted, about 5 minutes. Stir in maple syrup; cook and stir 1 minute. Spread onto foil; cool completely.
For frosting, beat butter until creamy. Beat in 1 tablespoon maple syrup and salt. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar and enough cream to reach desired consistency.
Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate; spread with 1 cup frosting. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup candied walnuts and drizzle with 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Repeat layers.
Top with remaining layer. Frost top and sides of cake. Top with remaining walnuts and syrup.
Maple Overnight Oats
This breakfast treat can be made the night before and dressed up the following morning with fruit, yogurt and nuts.
For 2 servings, combine 1 cup of old fashioned oats with 1 cup of your choice of milk. Stir in 4 tablespoons of maple syrup. Either divide into 2 containers, or store in the refrigerator in a single container. The oats will soften after 2 hours but they are best when left in the refrigerator overnight.
This is the basic recipe. You could also add for each serving: 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, 1 tablespoon flax seeds, 1 tablespoon chia seeds. Find what you like best! No matter what you add, your breakfast will have a base of healthy carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Enjoy springtime wherever you are! While we love cold nights, we too are looking forward to warm days and being outside. Until then, we’ll be boiling and bottling some delicious 2021 maple syrup. Click the green links or the button below to shop for your own springtime sweet maple syrup!
Welcome to January! It’s time to prepare the sugarbush!
It seems like yesterday, and yet also a long time ago, that the nation went into lockdown. Last March we were isolated on our hill in Huntington, Vermont, with only one task: boil the thousands of gallons of maple sap into maple syrup, one stick of firewood at a time. I have never been able to participate in the daily flow of sugaring so when school closed,
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
Welcome to the sugar farm in Autumn!
Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote about the splendor of October in Anne of Green Gables. We think our sugar dog, Archie, may be experiencing his own Anne Shirley moment! Archie came to Couching Lion Maple Sugar Farm in April, as a stray from Texas . He took a few months to get used to a life where food readily appears,
August Newsletter “Breathe the sweetness that hovers in August. “ Welcome to August!
I couldn’t agree with poet Denise Levertov more, there really is a sweetness that hovers in August. Vermont is so beautiful right now. The garden is overflowing with vegetables, our peach tree is drooping with fruit and the fields are bursting with wildflowers. I think the sweetness also comes from holding onto the days we have now as seasonal change is coming,
“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.” -Albert Camus Welcome to July!
As summer rolls in and we mourn the loss of so many beloved traditions and activities due to the pandemic, we’re also faced with examining some uncomfortable truths about our country and ourselves. I like this quote from French philosopher, Albert Camus as it encourages one to ponder how we can improve in our lives and our actions,
“No price is set on the lavish summer; June may be had by the poorest comer. ”
Dear friends, what a tumultuous spring we have had in the United States and worldwide. While the Covid-19 lockdown proved challenging for our hearts and minds, we have also been consumed with the clear and present racism in our country. Our president continues to stoke the flames of hate and has also now worked to limit rights for transgender Americans.
…..bring May flowers, as the saying goes. It happens to be true, but it’s also a nice phrase to cheer us up during these wet and chilly spring days. Up in Huntington we have late season snowfalls and the ground is slow to appear. Although I yearn for the early signs of spring, our northern elevation also means our sugaring season can last later into April. If the weather warms up too quickly,
As the eighteenth century saying goes, “March, in like a lion, out like a lamb.” Most believe the saying refers to weather which is still quite wintry in the beginning, and possibly more mild by the end of March. This March has proved no different in terms of weather , but also in terms of the confluence of multiple serious illnesses and injuries in our family and the arrival of the coronavirus in Vermont.
February has been a busy month around here! Sugaring season is starting earlier and earlier due to climate change, so we have to adjust our schedules to catch sap when it’s flowing. Matt stopped his restaurant renovation and came back to the farm. He’s been clearing lines that come down due to weather or animals. It’s also a great time to start cutting wood for next year’s sugaring. A friend is coming to help tap tomorrow and we’ll be boiling as soon as there’s enough sap!