Boiling Off: Maple Sugaring in Maine

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Boiling Off: Maple Sugaring in Maine by John Hodgkins

In 1964 three cousins tapped three thousand sugar maples deep in the Maine woods. They called themselves Jackson Mountain Maple Farm. They faced bankruptcy, exhaustion, pests and rodents, and dreadful sugaring conditions, but Hodgkins survived and has been making Maine maple syrup commercially in Temple, Maine, for sixty-some years.

Woven into the story of Jackson Mountain Maple Farm is the history of Maine sugaring, beginning in Farmington in 1781, when Stephen Titcomb boiled off the first official pure Maine maple syrup in a cast iron kettle. Boiling Off tracks the evolution of sugaring technology from Titcomb’s kettle to reverse osmosis and heat exchangers; follows sap gathering techniques from buckets and oxen-drawn drays to plastic tubing and vacuum pumps; and records production in Maine from 8,000 gallons of maple syrup in 1985 to 709,000 gallons in 2017. The story describes the subtleties of syrup flavor, how it is properly graded, and the art of making award-winning maple syrup.