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Morse says, “you’d build it like the old ones.”
Rebecca Linehan McGregor grew up sugaring in Monkton, Vermont. Come March, she
and her siblings would help her father tap more
than 1,000 trees on their 100-acre dairy farm —
in addition to harvesting sap from maples on
acreage he rented from neighbors each season.
“As a kid, I wasn’t thrilled about hiking through
Burr Morse and Stuart
Osha still try to capture
that old-time deep-woods essence, making
their syrup in small
batches over wood fires.
Architect: Hutker Architects
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the woods tapping the trees, but looking back,
I miss it,” says McGregor. “You’re out in the
woods; it’s peaceful and quiet.” She describes
their sugarhouse as “standard old-style — noth-
ing big, nothing fancy.”
Today, her father still taps (with help
from his grandchildren) but has scaled back
his operations to a couple hundred gallons a
year. The syrup was never sold on store shelves.
Instead, in-the-know Vermonters would head to
the Linehan Farm for a can of the sugary stuff.
Last year, McGregor’s mother, Janice Linehan,
moved her syrup and homemade candy online,
selling her goods at MemesMaplesBaskets.
Times and technology change, of course,
and the advent of oil-fired evaporators and plastic sap lines led many commercial makers to
reverse the old calculations. Now the sap is
brought down from the sugar bush and close
to oil delivery trucks and syrup customers’
vehicles. Reverse osmosis (shortened to R.O.
by insiders) is also integral to modern sugar
making: Forcing the sap through specialized
membranes strips out 75 percent of the water
and makes the boil-down that much faster.
The combination of R.O. and oil is too
much for guys like Morse and Stuart Osha,
a sugar maker in Randolph, Vermont. Both
swear something important in the flavor gets
lost that way. Nowadays, they prefer to sleep in
their own beds rather than a barebones shack,
but they and other traditionalists still try to
capture that old-time deep-woods essence,
making their syrup in small batches over wood