COLUMBIA CITY, Ind.—Focus to quality.
That was the advice from legendary Vermont sugarmaker Glenn Goodrich, the featured speaker at the recent annual meeting of the Indiana Maple Producers Association in Columbia City.
Goodrich offered folksy humor and helpful pointers, sharing what he has learned growing his dual operation in Cabot, Vt. and Eden, Vt. to upwards of 150,000 taps after starting out on a flat pan and cinder blocks.
“Everything we do is focused to quality,” Goodrich said. “Your customer is sophisticated. Tune up your sugarhouse. Small is ok but make it nice.”
Goodrich pointed out the differences between Vermont and Indiana sugaring that work in the Hoosiers’ favor.
In Northern Vermont, the days just don’t warm up enough to get huge sap runs as they do in Indiana, where sugarmakers can enjoy “3 gallon days,” he said.
Goodrich said to keep sap tanks clean, washing them daily with hot water and a good tank brush.
Sugarmakers should also invest in reverse osmosis technology.
“I was scared to death to put an RO in my sugarhouse in 1999, but I was tired of using so much wood,” he said.
The results were surprising. Not only did he save huge amounts of time and fuel, but the syrup quality improved.
“Sap didn’t set in the tank as long,” he said.
Meanwhile, sugarmakers were advised to use proper defoamer.
“No butter, peanut butter or any other defoamer that might affect food allergies,” he said.
Pan depth should also be monitored while boiling.
For darker syrup, boil deeper. Shallower, lighter.
“The faster you process, the lighter it will be,” he said.
He recommended a pan depth of one inch.
Goodrich closed his talk with discussions about firing and filtering.
After years of burning wood in his evaporator—more than a hundred cords per season and even once using seven cords in a single day—he said firing with wood took too much of a toll on his body. He made the switch to oil.
“Oil is not as even a heat but wood is very physically demanding,” he said.
For filtering, Goodrich reminded sugarmakers to use enough Diatomaceous earth when building up cakes in the filter press plates.
Goodrich recommended at least one cup of DE per gallon of syrup.
“Err on the side of too much,” he said.