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Sugar on Snow, a Vermont tradition

Making Sugar on Snow has been a Vermont Maple syrup harvest-time tradition for generations.  Before enjoying this treat somebody must harvest the maple sap and boil it down into pure maple syrup.  Maple sugaring as it is called, occurs every spring when there is a freeze at night and a thaw in the daytime.  Each maple tree gets one tap hole drilled into it, and will produce about 10-15 gallons of sap per season, on average. Which means it takes 3- 4 maple trees, that are between 40 and 200 years old, to make 1 gallon of pure maple syrup.  The sap drains into a small bucket, and is tranferred by hand to a larger container, and then placed on a tractor or horse-drawn carriage, and delivered to the sugar shack to be boiled down into syrup.  It is a very labor intensive process, and the producers of pure maple syrup deserve a lot of respect for their hard work, especially the producers that still harvest with buckets, and boil with a wood-fired evaporator.  It’s great to see them in the sugarbush harvesting the sap and continuing the tradition, and I’m thankful knowing that some of this remarkable gift of nature will end up on my blueberry, apple or pumpkin pancakes.  It will also end up as “sugar on snow” for many Vermonter’s and those lucky enough to be in the area during maple syrup harvest-time.  It isn’t difficult to find a sugar shack serving this treat on weekends during March and April, you could also get a maple creemee ice cream cone, or pick up some fresh maple syrup while you are there.  Sugar on Snow is served with sour pickles to cut the sweetness, and plain doughnuts which can be used to dip into the syrup.  When the warm maple syrup is drizzled over the snow (usually crushed ice) it will firm up into a taffy-like consistency, make sure to drizzle slowly and in small amounts.  This works best with Vermont Fancy, Grade-A Light Amber Pure Maple Syrup.  That “stuff” most people put on their pancakes contains about 0% – 2% of real maple syrup.  From now on I will only use 100% pure maple syrup from Vermont whenever possible. It’s worth the extra money to get the real, pure and natural taste, and to support the maple syrup harvestor’s and producer’s that keep this great tradition alive, and give us access to this remarkable product.