Established in 2014, our small family farm carries on the long tradition of Vermont sugar making. We collect the sap from our maple trees, boil it over a wood-fired arch, and hand bottle each gallon. Each bottle contains the purest maple, our family passion, and of course hard work. Boiling over a wood-fired evaporator give the sugars in the maple sap more time to caramelize into perfection, giving it a more authentic maple taste than the oil fired counterparts!
A unique delicacy syrup used mainly in cooking and baking. It's nutty savory flavor from a high mineral content adds to any dish. More frequently used with meat and fish, in dressings, for baking and cooking, and over ice cream.
Our birch syrup making season begins towards the end of our maple season. It takes 100 gallons of birch sap to make one gallon of syrup - compared to maple which takes 40 gallons of sap to one gallon of syrup. This is due to the lower sugar concentrate in birch sap. Made in the same way as our maple, we concentrate the sap to make our boiling time more efficient over our wood fired arch.
Gateway Farm Birch Burgers
1 lb grass-fed burger
1/8-1/4 cup of Gateway Farm birch syrup
(depends on preference, we use the full 1/4)
1.5 teaspoons rosemary (fresh or dry)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon course ground dijon mustard (optional)
Combine all ingredients, form and cook to preference. Our favorite toppings include mild cheese and/or carmelized onions.
Our maple sugaring season here slowly begins in December - more so January. At this time we start walking around in our sugarbush (the woods where we tap), checking for down lines, fallen trees, rodent chews, deer damage, amongst many other things. To collect maple sap from 12,000 maple trees we use a tubing system, and each of the 12,000 trees has to be tapped by hand individually. Each maple tap has a lateral line that goes to it where we connect the tap, each lateral line runs to a larger mainline where it is carried to our sugarhouse. The lines are set up on a vacuum system, this help with production efficiency. So each line and each tap needs to be air tight in order to stabilize the vacuum for maximum efficiency. We start this early so we are ready to catch the first "run" of the season. The first run can happen in February, and by March we expect to be in the thick of the season, lasting through April. Since the running of maple sap occurs when nights get below freezing temperatures, and the day temperatures are above freezing - our season is very dependent upon the weather. This can suspend, prolong, and vary each year. It takes about 40 gallons of raw sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup!
Once the maple sap makes it to our sugarhouse, we process the sap which in it's raw form contains on average a 2% sugar content. We run the raw sap through a reverse osmosis (RO) machine which pulls some of the water from the sap thus concentrating it to a higher sugar percentage. This process saves us hours upon days of boiling time. We also have what they call a "Steam Away" on top of our back pan. This also help with efficiency, thus leading to less wood burning. We made more syrup this year than last year, but used less wood, all thanks to this new piece of equipment.
After the sap has been concentrated, we store it in a large bulk tank. Once it has been concentrated it should be boiled as soon as possible. The coloring of syrup is affected by several factors and each factor can influence another—it gets complex. The pH of the boiling sap, sugar concentration, types of sugars in the sap, length of boiling time to produce syrup, the temperature outside, and even microbial activity all play a role in syrup color.
The most common form of sugar in sap is sucrose –a complex, stable form of sugar. Once the sap is outside the tree the sucrose molecules are exposed to naturally occurring bacteria and yeast that break down sucrose sugars into simpler fructose and glucose sugars. The warmer the air and sap temperature, the more active the microbes, the more sucrose that gets converted. These converted sugars can go through a Maillard reaction or “browning” process while sucrose doesn’t. The bacteria and yeasts are killed during the boiling process.
Maillard reactions are the same reactions that browns the crust of baked bread or gives French fries that golden color. They also provide the coloring for maple syrup. The more glucose and fructose sugars in the boiling sap and the longer the sap boils, the darker the syrup will be. Sap with lower pH also breaks down sucrose, resulting in more glucose and fructose. Furthermore, the concentration of sugar in sap influences boiling time. The higher the sugar content, the shorter the boiling time. When the sap is exposed for less time in the evaporator, there is less time for browning resulting in a lighter grade of syrup.
In short, Golden syrup, in part, is a product of sap that has had little microbial activity either because of lower temperatures and/or sanitary sap handling. It’s quite common for sugarmakers to clean their equipment often throughout the season to keep the syrup from getting darker. It’s also common for them to be happy if there is a good cold snap in the weather forecast late March. The frigid nights can lighten up the syrup. Likewise, as the season goes on, temperatures build, sugar content in the sap declines, microbial activity increase, and the syrup color darkens.
Preference for a flavor comes down to personal taste. One may not like the flavor of Golden syrup but that is the appropriate flavor for the grade. Most folks enjoy the Dark and Very Dark grades of syrup due to the robust and strong maple flavors. Those grades tend to be produced later in the season when it takes longer to make syrup due to lower sugar contents. This longer boiling allows for more flavor to develop and Maillard reactions play a role. Not only is color developed during these reactions, so is flavor. The flavors found in Golden and Amber syrups have some developed maple flavors but are mild in comparison because the boil time is less, and sucrose levels are higher. The mild and delicate maple flavors allow for other organic substances found naturally in maple sap to be part of the flavor profile. Besides boiling time and sap composition, soils, tree-health, sap handling and processing, and weather can affect flavor development and give unique flavors to every sugarhouse.
Our birch syrup is made in the same way - only difference is the raw sugar content of birch sap comes in at an average of 0.2-0.5% sugar. Which means we need 120-150 gallons of birch sap to make one gallon of birch syrup. Hence why it is pricier than Maple.
We are members of the Vermont Sugar Maker's Association. They are dedicated to Maple Farmers in Vermont - they have a great selection of recipes, facts, tourism routes, open house info, and more!
Why? Because we are taking a WILD tree and tapping it. We are taking the naturally occurring wild substance and bottling it up for you. Is our product 100% free from pesticides, herbicides etc - ABSOLUTELY! Do we manage our forest for longevity and healthy eco systems without the organic programs requiring us to do so - ABSOLUTELY! We believe our wild maple & birch trees are already as organic as they can be, managed organically, and our products taste as wild crafted as any - we hope you understand, and enjoy!
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