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Real Maple Syrup Being Made Through March in Massachusetts

Quissett Hill Farm’s John Gomersall boils sap and measures its sugar content, which must be between 67 percent and 68 percent to avoid spoilage or crystallization. Courtesy photo

Quissett Hill Farm in Mendon is one of several local harvesters
By Linda Chuss
Many people have never tasted authentic maple syrup, instead using flavored corn syrup to top off their pancakes and waffles. That was true for John Gomersall, who now not only uses maple syrup with everything from coffee to ham, but also produces the “liquid gold” at Quissett Hill Farm in Mendon, and sells it throughout the region. 
People who have used both types of syrup often find maple has a far richer taste.
In 2014, Gomersall moved to the farm which is located at 58 Quissett Road and dates to 1815. At that time, it was not set up for maple sugaring. 
“We wanted to raise alpacas at a historic property,” he shares. Pondering the hundreds of maple trees, his interest turned to making his own syrup. “I started off knowing nothing about it, and studied up. Given my engineering background, I also like exploring various production methods.” 

A maple tree being tapped at Mendon’s Quissett Hill Farm may be as old as the 1815 house on the property. Courtesy photo


Gomersall progressed from gathering a few buckets of sap and cooking it over a campfire to using a tube-based collection operation with reverse osmosis filtering in his production system, which greatly improved efficiency.
Maple syrup has four different basic flavors from the milder golden to the intense very dark. Syrup can also be infused with flavors like vanilla. The Quissett Hill farm store offers sampling at events, with maple and alpaca products available onsite and at Syrup can also be purchased at Mendon’s Imperial Gas and Country Store and Kelly’s Farm in Upton.
While Massachusetts is not renowned for maple harvesting, dozens of small-batch farms in the state produce syrup rivaling that of Vermont. 
Syrup starts as sap, which is water containing approximately 2% sugar that trees produce for their energy needs. Weather temperatures cycling between below and above 32 degrees create pressure inside a tree, pushing the sap. Tapping a hole in a tree with an attached spout allows the flowing sap to drip into a container. Boiling the collected sap extracts water and raises the sugar content. 
“This year, I began tapping in February and expect to continue for six to eight weeks,” Gomersall said. “Climate change is making the start and duration of the sugaring season less predictable.”
Buying local syrup instead of syrup transported from far-off factories is one way to reduce emissions that drive climate change. Another benefit of buying local is the pleasure of dealing with neighbors and finding unexpected delights like alpaca at a small family-run operation.

More Maple Sugar 
Woodville Maples, 217 Wood Street, Hopkinton - sells syrup, candies, and honey at their sugar house and at the town’s farmers’ market. 

Natick Community Organic Farm, 117 Eliot Street, Natick - sells bottled syrup and offers ticketed tours (pre-register).

Pure BS Maple Shack, 149 Central Street, Auburn - syrup, maple cream, candy, etc. for sale; also free tours, demonstrations, testings, sap gathering. 

For additional locations and resources, including how syrup is made, visit