By Carla Charter
Vermont has a long history of producing maple products. This history is on display at the New England Maple Museum, in Pittsford, Vermont. the largest Maple Museum in New England.
“The Native Americans first discovered the (maple sugaring) process. They created Granulated Maple sugar for their own consumption,” according to Laura Goodrich, General Manager of the museum. “The sugar didn’t become commercial until the American Civil War, as white sugar was hard to come by, due to embargoes in the south.
“Maple syrup became a commercial product at the turn of the century, Cary’s syrup was one of the first,” she continued. “At that time, it was considered a luxury item, not a necessity. It was expensive. As companies grew and more people made maple syrup the price went down.”
The museum has artifacts dating from the late 1700’s to modern times, many donated by families that have been in Vermont since the 1700’s. These include spouts, Spiles, which are a rougher type of spout, candy molds and a collection of antique maple syrup bottles. The museum displays larger items important to the maple industry as well, including evaporators and other equipment.
Among the more unique items at the museum, according to Goodrich, is a slice of a Sugar Maple Tree given to us by a 93-year-old Vermonter who had lived on his family farm his whole life. The tree fell, was cut up and a slice of that tree is now hanging on the wall. “You can see through all generations, scar marks from the tap holes. In California you count a tree’s rings to tell its age. The Vermont way, in a slice of wood like this, is to count the tap holes.” Goodrich said. Visitors can also stop at the Museum’s sample room, where they can taste different grades of syrup, maple cookies, maple cream, and maple candy.
“The Museum visitors come from all over the world. “When they come out of the museum they have a greater sense of appreciation of all the hard work it takes to make maple syrup,” Goodrich said. More information on the museum can be found a www.maplemuseum.com