WHAT MAKES MAPLE SYRUP ORGANIC?


Fake maple syrup? Life is too short for that!

Life IS too short for fake maple syrup!

LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR FAKE MAPLE SYRUP!!

I don’t care whether you buy conventionally made or Organic it’s all delicious and way better than processed cane sugar.  It’s a bonus that it’s full of vitamins and minerals.  Quarry hill farm is a certified organic maple producer, and at least twice each week I get asked how that’s even possible.  I mean, isn’t ALL maple syrup organic since it comes from a tree??   The simple answer to that is no.  Just like maple syrup isn’t vegetarian or vegan unless it’s certified organic,  (read more about that below).

Producing ORGANIC maple syrup doesn’t make syrup taste any better.  The ability to do so relies heavily on how you boil, what trees you have, and Mother Nature. In fact, being organic is practically invisible if you don’t know where to look.  If you’re curious I have listed the requirements for organic certification below for your reading pleasure.  Really, what it comes down to is that we LOVE our sugar woods and would be devastated if a mistake we made caused the loss of our treasured maples.

IMPORTANT REQUIREMENTS FOR BEING CERTIFIED ORGANIC.

  • FORESTRY MANAGEMENT:  Before you can be certified organic you must have an extensive forestry plan.  The plan goes into great detail explaining everything your land needs to survive for generations to come.  It’s expensive and very time consuming, but well worth it.
  • EROSION CONTROL:  Installing good woods roads with water bars and erosion control ditches are vital to the ecological landscape of our forest.  We, as humans, want to do as little harm as possible to the delicate flora and fauna contained in our working landscape.  Unbelievable damage is done to vast acres of land by running through it with 4 wheel vehicles, trucks, horses, snowmobiles etc..  This is why taking care of any potential erosion issues is vital to maintaining a healthy forest.
  • CHEMICAL/CLEANERS:  We do not use cleaners in or on our pipe lines, tanks, or production equipment.  We clean pipe lines out by dumping the first run of sap.  The sap is an effective enough “cleaner” to get the job done.  We start boiling when the sap runs clear like water.  In addition we never use a commercial grade defoamer.  Defoamer’s have a chemical component to them Mono and Diglycerides which are not only a concern for Vegetarians and Vegans, as they do contain animal fat, but are also a synthetic component which has other applications such as antifreeze, electronic cigarettes and internal combustion fuels to name a few.  We use an organic safflower oil for defoaming purposes.  It works just as well and I feel a whole lot better about using it.
  • PRODUCTION/TAPPING PROCEDURES:  There are a few organic requirements that pertain to the way we tap trees and collect sap which set us apart from conventional maple producers.  First, we are only allowed to tap trees that are 10″ in diameter or larger.  That’s a tree that is about 50 years old and well established.  Anything smaller is believed to weaken and eventually kill the tree or at the very least make it susceptible to disease.  Second,  we have to use lower vacuum pressure.  We use vacuum to gather sap from the dips and valleys that are way too common in Vermont.  The theory is that if you use  higher PSI it could potentially dry the tap holes out and make the tree susceptible to disease.
  • INSPECTION:  We are inspected twice a year to make sure we’re doing what is required of us.  Inspectors from NOFA, (National Organic Farmers Association), sit down with us to go through our records. Then we head into the woods where random sections are checked over to ensure that we’re maintaining everything properly.  I welcome these inspections.  It’s something that never happens on conventional sugaring operations, and I’m a strong believer that we all need some oversight at times to avoid becoming lax.

If you’d like to learn more about the organization we are certified by here’s a link:  http://nofavt.org

 

2 thoughts on “WHAT MAKES MAPLE SYRUP ORGANIC?

  1. I understand your statement about being certified for organic maple syrup. My question is how do you deal with acid rain. Don’t the trees absorb it???? I would think that would affect the certification as being truly “organic.”

    Karen Lewis from Vermont

    • That’s a great question. Organic certification is about the process for which we collect and boil sap. We of course can’t spray chemicals on the trees, even if said trees were getting inundated with the Asian Longhorn Beetle. All we can do is provide the best environment that we can, so that when diversity like insects, environmental changes, and disease do come they don’t take hold and kill the tree. NOFA makes sure that we’re taking care of our woods, treating the trees as gently as possible, and that when we do collect the sap we’re making syrup responsibly and organically.
      There is something to say about the remarkable filtration system within the trees themselves. I haven’t done the research, but I wonder how clean the sap does come out of the trees when chemicals are introduced? It has to run through the ground through the roots then dispersed through out the tree through layers of wood. There’s plenty of opportunity for filtering.
      One last thing: Acid rain is a thing. I believe it is everywhere. I also believe that without some serious changes it will eventually kill the trees and then eventually us. I haven’t seen the tell tale sign of acid rain in the form of dead or dying leaves at the top of the canopy. Here in Vermont we’re lucky to have some of the cleanest air. Lets hope it stays that way…
      I hope I answered your question, but if not feel free to write me back. I’m intrigued.

      AnnMarie

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