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Rotten Snow and Widow Makers

March 16, 2011

Yesterday was such a perfect sunny day and today it is raining.  The up side is that the sap was flowing yesterday afternoon and with the day temperatures high enough today,  sap will continue to flow.  George was sugaring  yesterday afternoon and late into the night, he looks pretty dragged out this morning.   He will probably be sugaring tonight too.

The warm temperatures give thought to the changing landscape and the annual rotting of snow.  For those who are away,  rotten snow is the snow that is corrupted by fog, rain, and warm temperatures.  This is also the time you see snow fleas,  an uninvited bit of protein you should avoid in your Sugar on Snow.  

Besides making  good clean snow harder to find for treats if you are doing an open house, rotten snow makes footing in  the woods or on the path to the sugar house  a bit unstable increasing the risk for slips and falls.   If you are having an open house and bringing in guests to see your operation,   signs that say “watch your step” or “caution” will remind you and your guests to slow down.   Having these signs also conveys trust to your potential market.  If the sugar maker cares to take  time to tell me to use caution,  I am more likely to buy syrup.  And if the sugar maker is friendly and  makes the time to tell me where to stand the sugar house, out-of-the-way of danger, but still in a place where I can see, then I will buy his syrup.  

And rotten snow means that sugar makers are generally looking down to watch their footing, while all along the danger can be high above.   This winter we had a number of high wind storms and up there in the trees are dead limbs and broken branches that can come down and kill you with a bonk to the head,  hence  the name Widow Maker.     Any time you are going out to check your lines, you should also be looking up into the trees. 

I will be going up to a sugar house tomorrow.  The weather is planning to be a bit dryer and maybe the sun will come back out.  I am a big fan of the hotdog and donut done up in maple.    The office has had quite a discussion about the correctness of certain foods put into the pan, so the best thing is to always check first.  But enjoy,  this is such a great time of year.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2011 11:00 am

    Fascinating…snow fleas (now I know what they really are) and sugar on snow…all very Vermont! George will need a vacation after his sugaring schedule ends. Thanks for the insights!

  2. George Cook permalink
    March 16, 2011 10:54 am

    Just a couple quick notes.

    As to the link…the temperature listed in the Sugar-on-Snow recipe is way high. At 255, it will be brittle…you’ll break your teeth. Usual temperature is 232 – 235; when it gets to 232, I start checking by drizzling a teaspoon of syrup on packed snow in the kitchen, when it sets up on the snow, you’re done and ready to enjoy.

    Also, I am a purist, I refrain from putting anything into my evaporator pans, except for pure maple sap (and a tiny bit of defoamer, as needed). No hot dogs, no eggs to boil, no donuts…nothing. As a little kid, I recall tossing an egg into the back pan and getting a very quick lesson from my dad about how boiling sap and poached eggs don’t mix! That was the last time I ever tried that stunt. A roasted hot dog tastes super and is quicker than “nuking” it.

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