Vermont Maple & Smoke
In the Beginning
In 2016 my wife and I took month long honeymoon in India, which was an amazing and bonding experience for us both. After returning home in mid April I wanted to have some time for sage reflection, so I went camping for a few days on the banks of the Waterbury Reservoir near Stowe VT. While basking in some early spring weather I did something I had read about in some wild foraging books, and I cut a small notch in a birch tree and inserted a small strip of bark. Low and behold drips of sap water began to spill out, about once a second. I was thrilled, and collected the dripping sap in a metal cup. After a few hours I only had about a cup of liquid, but I reduced it on the coals of my fire until it what I was left with was a lightly sweet drink tasting of marshmallows and birch beer. The whole process seemed so perfectly in harmony with that very natural of places, and I was excited by the prospects of tapping maple and birch in the future, and with the memories of spices of India still ringing in my head I pondered what possibilities where flowing through the trunks of those trees in that cold forest.
From then on year after year I tapped a small grove a trees, each year getting more and more syrup boiling sap and fogging up the windows of our home. I would spend snowy winters days applying that syrup to different sauce preparations, searching for recipes we would some day try and bring to the streets.
We make our sauces at the Food Venture Center in Hardwick, Vermont, which is a wonderful resource for small business in the state. They have all the equipment necessary for large scale production, bottling, and packaging. We source as much as we can from Vermont, and especially our maple syrup which we get from Gaudette Organic Maple in Enoseburg Falls, VT. As we work to build relationships with area retailers we are hoping to bring our humble sauce to a store near you.
Maple syrup is the sap of the maple tree, which contains a natural sugar which you can taste in the sap straight from the tree. When you remove water from the sap by boiling or condensing the flavor intensifies and the sap becomes thicker until it becomes the iconic amber color and matched flavor. Maple is North America's native sugar source, and Vermont is the largest maple producer in the US, and second largest in the world behind the entire country of Canada. For the trees to produce the best sap it takes cold winters with many days below freezing, and preferably in the teens. When the weather starts to warm in the later Winter and Spring the sap begins to flow up the tree from the roots to the branches, and that is when it is time to tap.
Human kind has been collecting the maple's sap for thousands of years. Native Americans would collect the sap to drink straight or to boil with hot rocks. When done responsibly the trees are not injured in the process, and some studies show it promotes growth in the trees. It was a gift of the gods that the sap flowed through the trees, and the same may be said today. It is hard not to sand in reverence of something so sweet and wonderful which springs from nature itself
See Chef Brian Stefan's Bio Here
Ancient tapping method
Birch sap reduced to syrup