Thorne Discusses the Joys of Syrup Making

VERMONTVILLE—Stephanie Thorne is one of the Maple Syrup Festival’s local syrup producers. She has been a producer for about nine years, and worked with Gerald Lundstrum for about 15 years all together. Unlike some of the other producers Thorne was not born into the syrup business, but had to learn, and learned from the best, Gerald. Thorne enjoys it “especially on nice days.”

Thorne has 45 acres for tapping trees, and 200 acres of her own land all together. Thorne also taps on her neighbors’ land, which is five acres. Buckets are more desirable than tubing because “you can wash buckets,” says Thorne. Although you can clean tubing, it is more difficult. The evaporator is 5'x14', the front is 5'x6', and the back is 5'x8'.

With all the fun of making the syrup comes a few dislikes. Cleaning is one of Thornes’ least favorites. “Other than cleaning I find it very enjoyable,” she stated. Gathering sap is a favorite of Thorne’s. She does all the boiling, so it takes all her time away from gathering.

For the Thorne family, help is involved, not necessarily a tradition. “As the boys get older, they are growing up and doing their own things,” she added. This year, the family has helped a lot.

The Thorne’s filter using a gathering tank. The sap goes into the storage tanks and is then filtered, finished sap runs through a pre filter to the filter tank, and then it will run to the filter press. When the syrup is ready to sell, it is sold mostly retail and while some is sold wholesale.

“Making the highest quality possible,” said Thorne, is something the producers try to do to promote the syrup. “Bad syrup has its place, but not in Vermontville,” said Thorne.

Although a lot of fun is involved, it is hard work for the syrup producers. “It is very enjoyable, I’d rather make it than sell it,” said Thorne. With all the work with Thornes’ horses and hay, she still thinks it is “worse than doing hay,” as far as work goes.

Thorne makes maple cream and maple candy. Someday she would like to get into making granulated sugar, which is harder to make, she added.

With all that being said, Thorne thinks this has been the best season for syrup. The quality of the syrup has been wonderful, as well as the quantity. The Thornes’ are up to over 500 gallons of syrup; their record is 630 gallons. “I think we will beat our record for sure this year,” said Thorne. The weather has been perfect and the quality has stayed very consistent. The Thorne’s have been getting the same amount and quality of syrup since March 3. “The lighter the color, the higher the quality,” she stated.

For the first time, the Thorne family and crew will participate in the grand parade at the syrup festival. The will be riding a Johne Deere tractor that will be pulling a wagon with all their syrup products on the wagon with them. “It will be a lot of fun,” said Thorne.

Thorne would like to see the other producers get more involved, but it is very difficult because while the producers are getting sap, the festival is already being planned and worked on. Thorne does appreciate all the efforts in the festival. “It amazes me how hard Miller and Perez work,” she said. Hopefully, if the producers get involved in the parade, and more people want to help, there won’t be any worry about the tradition of the Syrup Festival ending.

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