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Sweet repeat victory in syrup contest

  • The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript's 37th Annual Maple Syrup contest was held Saturday, April 22, 2017. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Above: Judge Roger Swain marks down scores for samples of 15 maple syrups entered into the Ledger-Transcript’s Annual Maple Syrup Contest on Saturday. Left: Maple syrup is poured into identical tasting cups to preserve anonymity in the judging process.  Staff photoS by Ashley Saari

  • The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript's 37th Annual Maple Syrup contest was held Saturday, April 22, 2017. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript's 37th Annual Maple Syrup contest was held Saturday, April 22, 2017. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript's 37th Annual Maple Syrup contest was held Saturday, April 22, 2017. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, April 25, 2017 7:38AM

Jon Miner of Grand Monadnock Maple Farm once again snagged the top prize at the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript’s 37th annual Maple Syrup Contest, making this two years in a row his syrup was named the best in the region.

“So I really won again?” said Miner in an interview on Monday. “I’m actually still a little surprised.”

Miner submitted one of the earliest syrups Grand Monadnock Maple – which has between 800 and 1,000 taps – collected, one of the only golden batches he collected all year, he said.

Maple syrup is graded based on color. The lighter the color, the more delicate the flavor, with “golden” being the lightest color.

“This sample is an extraordinary achievement,” said judge Roger Swain on Saturday. “It doesn’t have a strong maple flavor, but it tastes of nothing else but maple.” Such a syrup might not be a huge success commercially, said Swain, and might be overpowered by other flavors when added to foodstuffs. However, he said, the purity of the flavor was difficult to achieve.

“We will not see syrup of this grade again for many years,” said Swain.

That achievement was even more noteworthy this year, noted Miner, as only the earliest runs of syrup in the middle of February produced a golden syrup. The inconsistent weather for the rest of the season produced a syrup that while tasting of a more medium grade syrup, generally came out darker. 

The second-place taker, Uncle Jim’s, produced by brothers Jered, Matt and Dane Sauvola, was also one of their earliest produced products, though they got a later start on the season, said Jered Sauvola in an interview on Monday. 

The Sauvolas don’t produce for commercial sale, said Sauvola, but share their syrup among themselves, family, friends and helpers.

“It’s just a good way to get family, friends and neighbors out in the woods. We’re not just making syrup, we’re making good, clean memories,” said Sauvola. Even the name they produce under — Uncle Jim’s — evokes family, named for another Sauvola brother who passed away years ago in a car accident. None of his siblings children got the chance to know their “Uncle Jim” said Sauvola, and the family wanted to honor him in what has become very much a family-oriented pastime.

The gap between the top few syrups was a close one this year, the judges commented. In another year, another of the final four could have easily netted the top prize, commented judge Ben Watson, and there were no syrups that were easy to eliminate. The top two, Miner’s and the Sauvolas’, had identical scores, and the winner came down to minor details.

One of the top four to make it to the table was submitted by Louise Launder of Rindge, another small producer who only made 11 gallons of syrup this year. 

Launder, who has been seeking to improve her process for the past few years, said she was thrilled one of her creations made it to the judge’s final round. And the other of her submissions this year also was honored — with the People’s Choice Award. 

Those that attended Saturday’s contest at Cooper’s Hill Public House in Peterborough got the opportunity to taste all 15 entrants into the contest, and vote for their favorites. 

Launder started making maple syrup nine years ago when a friend bought a syrup starter pack only to discover she had no maple trees. Launder offered her property and trees, and her first year produced only half a cup of syrup. This year, she made it up to 11 gallons. 

“It’s amazing how different everyone’s syrups come out,” said Launder. “We all make it the same.”

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.