The third Milk Money campaign giving Vermonters the opportunity to discover and invest in local businesses, is live! And boy is it Vermonty!
When Kate and Justin McCabe moved their family to a house on 10 acres of trees - including maple - in Montpelier, they decided to try our hands at sugaring. They figured that with two small children, they went through a good amount of syrup, and needed an excuse to get outside when the winter sporting season had passed anyway. So they bought some buckets and spiles, read a book, and like so many before them, just went for it.
The first two years were not ideal. After rejecting the idea of an indoor boil, Kate and Justin decided to use the Thanksgiving Turkey's broiling pan on the propane grill. It took forever, and they spent as much or more in propane as they would have just buying the syrup outright, which was pretty depressing. During year two, they rested and homebrewed a batch of porter with our maple sap instead. That was less depressing, but didn’t result in quite as much outdoor time or offset the kids’ syrup requirements, either.
By year three, Kate and Justin were ready to try, try again, so they put in their twenty-five taps early in the new year. Justin looked everywhere for a backyard sap evaporator that didn’t cost a fortune, didn’t necessitate the construction of a sap house, and could be moved around when not in use, but ultimately came up empty. So he invented one and tested several versions before settling on a final design. Then, for a kick, Justin manufactured a dozen in the family garage. As it turned out, these first units all sold in less than two weeks to some very happy and satisfied customers all over New England and beyond! The Vermont Evaporator Company, and its Sapling, were born!
The Vermont Evaporator Company, LLC, located in Montpelier, Vermont, is a family-owned startup that manufactures small, home-scale sap evaporation units for the backyard sugaring enthusiast that are easy to use and available at a price point well below the industrial products on the market today. As an initial offering, VEC has developed the Sapling, a wood-fired barrel evaporator made from a retrofitted 55 gallon drum and a baffled stainless steel evaporating tray priced for the household at $795. Not just an evaporator, the Sapling doubles as a wood-fired grill in the off-season, and the development of an accessory package that will turn the unit into a smoker is underway!
Vermonters who want to learn more about the Vermont Evaporator Company opportunity can find investment details on the Milk Money website (www.MilkMoneyVT.com). The registration process is quick and easy for any adult with a Vermont driver's license.
Milk Money offers the opportunity for true “impact investing” since a dollar invested in a local business generates potential financial return as well as tangible social return on investment. By investing in a local business such as Vermont Evaporator Company, you will create new jobs and circulate wealth and build a stronger community that fosters new relationships between businesses and community members. The Milk Money platform serves as a meeting place for Vermonters to discover local investment opportunities such as Vermont Evaporator Company.
No maple? No problem!
Now that the leaves are in for the summer, it’s a good time to think about which trees you’d like to tap for next spring. While we usually associate sugar making with the sugar maple exclusively, there are many trees that produce sap that can be boiled down to syrup, including many non-maple varieties.
If you are up for a challenge, or just want to increase your maple syrup yield (like many amateurs, we tap a mixture of maples for our syrup), get your hands on a tree-identification book or two and some marking tape, and see how many on this (non-exhaustive) list are in your woods!
Black Maple Considered by some to be a subspecies of the sugar maple, the black maple produces sap that is similar in volume and sugar concentration to the sugar maple.
Red and Silver Maples Sap yields from these maples are lower in volume and sugar concentration than the sugar maple, but still commonly tapped. Note that these maples produce buds earlier in the spring than the sugar maple and that post-bud sap can produce syrup with a funny, tangy taste unsuitable for pancakes (but, in our opinion, passable for cooking).
Norway and Manitoba Maple / Boxelder These common maples produce significantly less-concentrated sap than the sugar maple but nevertheless can be tapped to make syrup.
Walnut Butternut trees (a.k.a. white walnut) produce a sap of a volume and concentration comparable to sugar maples; some say the taste of the resulting syrup is identical as well. Sap from the black walnut reportedly produces a sweet-but-astringent, nutty-flavored syrup. The heartnut, also in the walnut family, can also be tapped for syrup-making.
Birch While the paper birch has the most concentrated sap of the birch trees, it is still less than half as sweet as the sugar maple. Nevertheless, making birch syrup, variously reported to be sweet, spicy, and pungent, seems to be on the rise. The yellow birch, black birch, gray birch, river birch, and European white birches may also be tapped. Conveniently, birch sap usually runs after the maple sugaring season is over.
Sycamore Sycamores produce a less concentrated sap than the sugar maple that produces syrup reportedly tasting of butterscotch.