Republic of Vermont
If you have spent anytime in Vermont, you know that maple sugaring is an important tradition, a practiced craft and a labor of love. That's why Republic of Vermont produces their maple products with this history in mind. Their small batch maple syrup, and soon to be available honey, come from careful, sustainable methods on their 70 acre farm in the Green Mountains and honor the quality and integrity of this Vermont tradition. Owner Ethan West provides some insight about their process and products...
How did you begin making maple syrup and eventually starting your business in Vermont?
We started sugaring like a lot of people, with a few sap buckets and a small evaporator. I think we made 20 gallons of maple syrup our first year and we were absolutely hooked. We started walking around our family’s property in Goshen (where we live) and realized we were sitting on a substantial number of sugar maple trees. So we expanded the next year and continue to pursue the goal of making more syrup and refining our techniques every season.
What part of the maple sugaring (and/or honey making) process is most challenging? What part of the process do you enjoy most?
Making maple syrup and harvesting honey each have unique challenges but success at either pursuit depends heavily on the weather. With patterns in temperatures and precipitation shifting and becoming less predictable, hoping for the best but planning for the worst is critical. We’re constantly working on efficiencies in the sugarhouse and in the woods to make every drop of sap into maple syrup. When it comes to our honey bees, every summer we create dozens of small nucleus colonies to replace bigger colonies that die.
Working outside, whether it’s during surging season or working with the bees in the summer is by far the most enjoyable part of our work.
What natural elements or conditions effect the taste of maple syrup and honey?
Maple syrup can be effected by many different factors from the soil in the sugarbush to the weather. The biggest changes come in the color and flavor which change through the season. In the early, colder part of the season thee is much less bacterial growth and the maple syrup is lighter in color and flavor. As the weather warms up bacteria begins to grow and this creates late season maple syrup with darker color and a more robust flavor.
With honey the flavor and color are effected by what plants and flowers the bees are foraging from. Throughout the summer different plants bloom at different times and the bees gather the nectar and pollen. In the spring you may have basswood or dandelion honey and later in august you could have goldenrod and aster honey.
How does the New England region influence your products and business?
We love New England and Vermont with all our hearts. It’s where we both grew up and we try to instill the landscape and values of the area in our business and products. That’s why we’re called Republic Of Vermont!!! The name is a nod to Vermont’s history, people and independent spirit.
What is your favorite way to enjoy maple syrup/maple sugar/honey?
Anything baked with maple sugar is high on our list of favorites but tasting hot maple syrup straight from the evaporator can't be beat. Honey on buttered toast is a classic and our favorite!
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Photos: Melissa DiPalma