Posted by Jake Bourdeau

Leave it to PP Paul T. Gore to introduce an interesting and engaging speaker. Scott Dunn, with Dunn Family Maple Syrup, is a 4th generation syrup maker who grew up in Vermont. He lives and produces maple syrup in Buxton, Maine. When he is not tapping maple trees and boiling down the sap in their expanding sugar house, he is both a paramedic and the Vice President of the Maine Maple Producers Association. As a child, Scott would collect 40-50 gallons of sap a day, and boil it down to make 1 gallon of syrup.

Scott wove his family’s personal experiences about growing their sugar shack over the last six years with interesting facts about the maple syrup industry and its typical operations. From collecting sap using 3rd generation tin containers and boiling down sap over open smoky fires; to his new and more efficient process using vacuum pump extraction, reverse osmosis filters, and an evaporator, one could tell that Scott was excited about maple syrup and the products that can be made with it.

The vacuum extraction system can double the sap yield from a tree, and the reverse osmosis filters can reduce the time and energy (cord wood) to make the syrup by half. If you are a business man or like sustainability, those are some significant efficiencies being realized.

Scott told us about the weather-dependent considerations for collecting the maple sap from different types of maple trees, and how last year at this time they made 75-gallons of syrup, whereas this year they already have 276 gallons prepared. He let us know that the best weather conditions for producing sap seem to be when the temperatures are around 40 degrees during the day and 20 degrees at night. These conditions cause the sap to migrate up and down through the tree trunk.
So how does Maine stack up as a maple syrup producer? Shortly after Canada, Vermont, and New York. Vermont has approximately 6 million tapped maple trees, New York 3 million, and Maine about 1.9 million. Most of the tapped trees in Maine are found on the paper mill’s forest lands in northern Maine, in areas like Somerset and Jackman.

Mr. Dunn discussed the differences in the grades and flavors of syrup ranging from the golden delicate syrup with light maple flavors, to the darker amber syrups which are made later in the season. The darker syrups are more caramelized and have stronger flavors. According to Scott, much of the syrup sold on the shelves in supermarkets is from middle of the syrup grading scale.

With Maple Sunday coming up (each fourth Sunday in March), consider venturing out and celebrating it with them at the Dunn Family Maple Syrup sugar shack in Buxton. If you don’t like syrup on pancakes or French toast, consider other uses such as maple crusted peanuts, whoopie pies, maple cream, icing, beer flavorings, as well as whisky-barrel-aged syrup for a tasty topping on ice cream.

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(Photo L-R: PP Paul Gore, Scott Dunn and President John Curran.)