Urban maple tappers have new view of the world
GRANITE FALLS, Minn. – If you want to change the way you look at the world around you, take up maple syrup making in an urban setting.
As Susan Bergquist can attest, it certainly has changed how her husband, Leslie, looks at the world. She laughs that he can’t take a walk around the streets of Granite Falls, or drive into any neighboring community, without his eyes scanning for maple trees like a bee in search of flowers.
“A small-town hobbyist” is how Leslie Bergquist describes the maple syrup making that he and Susan undertake every spring. Both admit they’re maple syrup-aholics. “If there is such a thing,” said Leslie, laughing.
They have 17 spiles tapped into 12 trees in their neighborhood on the east side of Granite Falls. They are just finishing up this year’s production. They estimate they have collected somewhere north of 400 gallons of sap from the trees, which they have been boiling down to syrup.
They are expecting around nine gallons of the sweet, amber-colored syrup that they treat like liquid gold.
They will share some of it with the neighbors kind enough to let them tap their trees, and some is set aside for their grown children. The rest is theirs to slather on pancakes and waffles in the year ahead.
They will also stash a portion away in the freezer as their east Granite Falls version of Canada’s closely guarded maple syrup reserve. They vividly remember 2012 when the sap didn’t run, and now make it a practice to have a reserve on hand just in case.
Minnesota is ranked 12th in the U.S. in terms of commercial maple syrup production, way behind states like Vermont, New York, Maine and Wisconsin, according to Leslie Bergquist. No one knows how many hobbyists likes the Bergquists are out there producing syrup for non-commercial use.
While maple syrup making conjures up images of big, boiling vats stoked with wood fires in the deep woods, it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s believed that more and more hobbyists are producing maple syrup in urban settings.
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