For about 8 weeks in early spring, we gather sap from our sugar maple trees. Plumes of sweet steam fill the air as sap is boiled down to create Dragonfly Maple Syrup. All the maple sap comes from our trees, and is boiled into syrup with firewood we harvest from our land. We tend to the process from start to finish. Nothing is added: our 100% pure Vermont maple syrup is just that. As of 2007, Dragonfly Maple Syrup is certified organic by NOFA-VT.
How itís made
A traditional way of life for many Vermonters, "sugaring" is a craft that has evolved while remaining a labor of love that requires year-round work. In early spring (or "mud season," as it is known in Vermont), we tap our sugar maple trees by drilling shallow holes through the bark. Depending on their size, most trees are drilled with one or two holes, which amounts to well over a thousand taps in our sugarbush. The sap flows in certain conditions: warm days after cold nights. The taps are connected by tubing that allows the sap to run straight to the sugarhouse, where it is stored in stainless steel tanks. When we have collected enough, the sap funnels into a 5' x 14' evaporator and is boiled down into maple syrup. The evaporatorís raging fire (about 2000 degrees!) must be fueled every few minutes and the syrup must be drawn off at just the right moment. In a typical sugaring season, one average-sized tree will yield up to 20 gallons of sap; it takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. That is two trees worth of sap to make one gallon of syrup!
Our syrup is stored in stainless steel drums until it is bottled into glass. We use only glass containers to ensure a premium product. Glass (unlike tin or plastic) does not impart any off-flavors to the syrup. Glass is also more easily recycled, and requires less energy to produce. Our bottles are made in the USA and Europe.
What do the different grades mean, and which is the best?
The "best" grade is purely a matter of personal preference. Some folks love the robust flavor of Grade B, while others delight in the delicate taste of Vermont Fancy...
Vermont has its own maple syrup grading system based on the following four grades.
VERMONT FANCY: Light amber color and a delicate maple flavor. Excellent on vanilla ice cream and pancakes or crepes, which allow its subtle flavor to be appreciated.
GRADE A MEDIUM AMBER: Medium amber color and a pronounced maple flavor. The most popular for all-around use, it is great on French toast, waffles, and, of course, pancakes.
GRADE A DARK AMBER: Dark amber color and a robust maple flavor. Very popular for all-around use, particularly breakfast goodies such as pancakes and oatmeal, its hearty flavor also stands up in cooking.
GRADE B: The darkest syrup, it also has the strongest maple flavor. The best choice for cooking and also delicious with hearty pancakes or drizzled over winter squash.
Terroir: The link between taste and place
The term terroir, borrowed from France, is used to describe how the particular conditions of a place affect the quality and flavor of certain foods, particularly wine and cheese. Researchers are now looking at the link between the composition and flavor of maple syrup and where the syrup is produced. Our sugarbush is part of an interdisciplinary Middlebury College and University of Vermont study that is analyzing our soil, maple sap, and maple syrup over several seasons.
We think Dragonfly Maple Syrup is both delicate and assertive as a result of a unique terroiróour landís numerous rock outcroppings, fertile soil, and plentiful rain and snow, as well as good forest management. The lighter grades of Dragonfly syrup hint at vanilla and butter, while a smoky richness is the predominant characteristic of the darker syrups.