Ivan And Sis Puffenbarger Have Been Making Maple Syrup For Over Half A Century
Bluegrass, Va – Ivan and Sis Puffenbarger have been in the maple syrup business since 1959. After 52 years, the family is one of the oldest maple syrup producers in Highland County and is still going strong.
In 2008, the family suffered a setback when their sugar house and entire syrup for the season was lost due to fire. But, with the aid of the community a new sugar house was built and along with that new, modernized equipment is now used to produce their syrup. Puffenbarger explains how they now make their maple syrup.
“Well to start with we have our milking equipment that we converted from the dairy barn to the sugar house” he says. “And as of right now it is sucking about 850 trees into this one location. And then we have our reverse osmosis that changes the sugar content from 2 % to 12 to 15 % sugar.”
And with the new equipment it will cook about 30 gallons of finished syrup per hour. But that is not all it takes to finish the syrup for market.
“After you get 30 gallon an hour off of our evaporator it goes into a finishing pan and you have to take it about 2 more degrees and then it goes through a field to press up into the canning unit” says Puffenbarger. “Doug sits there and bottles it and somebody screws the caps on. And then she’s ready for market.”
The Puffenbarger’s along with their crew of helpers have tapped 2200 trees and the trees have 11,000 taps on them this year. As of March 1st, Puffenbarger says they were well on their way to a good year for syrup.
“Well I’m not for certain for we haven’t really gotten it all canned up yet but better than 400 gallon so far.”
With the weather, Puffenbarger is uncertain how much longer the syrup season will last.
“Well that depends on how much cold weather we get” he says. “If we keep getting freezing and thawing you know it could last another 2 or 3 weeks. You know I have seen it do that. But, you got to have the right kind of weather for it to go along with it.”
Puffenbarger’s Sugar Orchard located in Blue Grass will be open both weekends of the Maple Festival starting at 8am till the crowds die down. They will also have their maple donuts for sale along with their syrup.