Friday, December 17, 2010

Pour On Some Sugar

Magnet # 420:  Morse Farm Photo

Material:  Plastic

Purchased By:  Me

How's this as far as tasty celebrations go - today is National Maple Syrup Day.  So bring out your pancakes, waffles, French toast, crumpets, and oatmeal and pour on the good stuff in the spirit of the day.  Maple syrup was actually first developed in the northeastern part of North America by Native America, and when European settlers sampled it, they began producing it themselves.  And while the process we now use hasn't changed terribly much since colonial times, it's now more streamlined and more machines are utilized in it.  Even though Canada turns out eighty percent of the world's maple syrup, the United States is still responsible for the creation of hundreds of thousands of gallons of the sweetener every year.  And Vermont puts out more maple syrup than any other state.  When I visited it earlier this year, I was able to stop by Morse Farms Maple Sugarworks just outside of downtown Montpelier, and I had a nice time there.  This maple syrup production company has been around for 200 years and has remained in the Morse Family.  I have to wonder if they business decision to bring in tourists to their sort of welcome center hasn't helped them to stick around, as it is a very well done site.  It has a sort of rustic charm and there are several log cabins open to visitors.  In the Woodshed Theatre, whose walls are made of sugar wood, they can view a film about the maple sugar production process that features Harry Morse, Sr. a colorful character who's proud of his Yankee heritage.  The building next door offers them a look at the actual machines used to produce their maple syrup.  And they also feature chainsaw art produced by Burr Morse.  Best of all, visitors can sample all four US Syrup grades - Vermont Fancy, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber, and Grade B - for free.  Not only do these taste great, they also feature very attractive colors, from a golden tint to one that's almost ruby.  I have to admit, though, of all that I tasted at Morse Farms, I liked their Pure Maple Cream best - it's smooth and so decadent it's almost sinful.  And they don't just offer their own produce at their shop - it's a great place to buy all sorts of Vermont souvenirs, like this magnet.  Have a look at if you'd like to find out more.  I stopped by in the early morning, and it was pretty quiet - given that it's free to tour, it supposedly gets pretty crowded later in the day, so you might want to get there sooner rather than later if you want to avoid the throngs of people.

Real maple syrup can be pretty pricey, and was even moreso decades ago when my parents first married and had almost no money.  But they loved it and decided to splurge and buy a bottle when they had friends over for breakfast.  As they tell it, the couple drowned their pancakes in the indulgent syrup, leaving plenty on their plates when they were done, but almost none in the container.  That was the last time they served the real stuff to those two, yet as prices have gone down and their income has increased, it's become a regular part of their Sunday morning pancakes.  I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I don't use natural maple syrup myself.  I guess partially to save on calories and cost, I stick with the light varieties that are manufactured.  And I tended to think they're all the same, until I came upon an old container of Log Cabin Country Kitchen Lite in my cabinet.  Then I realized that this one blew away any other varieties I had tried.  And, for a time, it was actually tough to find it - I even checked out the Log Cabin website and when I didn't see it listed there, I thought it had been discontinued.  And, boy, was I thrilled when I came upon it in a grocery store!  I now have plenty of backup.  It's funny, even when I'm home with my parents and we have their natural maple syrup, I realize I like mine better.  I think I prefer the stronger favor and the fact that it's thicker.  And I know it's important to buy the natural version to keep places like Morse Farms around.  So here's my suggestion this National Maple Syrup Day - if you've never sampled the real thing, give it a try.  It's worth finding out what you're missing out on.  And if you find you still prefer your usual syrup, that's fine.  But this is one uniquely American tradition that everyone should experience at least once!


  1. I love the real stuff but unfortunately due to the cost I usually buy the other stuff.

  2. I can certainly understand that!