THE SUGAR SEASON by Douglas Whynott


A Year in the Life of Maple Syrup, and One Family's Quest for the Sweetest Harvest
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An inside look at the maple syrup industry.

From small, family-operated sugarhouses that use metal buckets to collect sap to mega-million–dollar outfits that run thousands of miles of plastic tubing over hundreds of acres of maple trees, Whynott (Writing/Emerson Coll.; A Country Practice: Scenes from the Veterinary Life, 2004, etc.) takes readers behind the often closed doors of the syrup industry in both the United States and Canada. Closely following one man's year of operation, the author examines the proper weather conditions required for the sap to run, explains in detail the process of reverse osmosis, which reduces the amount of water in the sap and thereby concentrates the sugar content, and chronicles the sometimes-risky business of buying and selling sap and syrup based on projections and borrowed money. Whynott provides details on the shapes, styles and designs of sugarhouses and explains how syrup is graded. Through extensive meteorological data and numerous statistics—e.g., one man's 63,865 taps produced 1,373 gallons of syrup during a seven-hour boil, the 2010 U.S. production was 20 million pounds, while the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, with more than 7,000 members, made five times that amount in 2012—Whynott shows the intimate, almost reverent relationship the maple producers have with their trees. They have been handed down from generation to generation like prized family heirlooms, valued not only for their moneymaking abilities, but for their majesty and beauty. Also evident is the deep concern syrup producers have regarding climate change, as the entire industry is dependent on certain weather conditions. These conditions are in constant flux, placing a multimillion-dollar industry in possible jeopardy.

Thorough research provides fascinating insight into the sweet business of maple syrup.

Pub Date: March 4th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-306-82204-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2014


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