Andes presents program on maple syrup to Golden K

Tom Andes, left, with Golden K Club program chairman Vance Uhazie. Andes presented a program on maple syrup at Monday’s meeting.


For The Daily News

KINGSFORD — After a busy Memorial Day weekend, Monday morning found Golden K members all refreshed and ready for a new week. With spring and summer activities bursting out, it was good to settle into a quieter time.

Vance Uhazie opened the meeting. Lois Outcelt sat at the piano and Al Calcari directed as the singing of a few “oldies” sparked good feelings from a special picnic with the children, the Memorial Day festivities and graduation celebrations. All these activities rolled into one weekend with a day left over for a much needed rest. Now it is back to the usual routine.

Happy Birthday to Shirley Winters, June 1; Paul Ward, June 3 and John Aune, June 4. Happy Anniversary to Jim and Barbara Verrette, June 2. The happiest of all was Bob Tachick as he collected his winnings from the 50-50 drawing.

Guests welcomed included Tom Andes, Peyton Carlson and her mother, and Tamara Juul.

Carlson was the recipient of a $1,500 scholarship received from the Golden K working with Tamara Executive director of Dickinson Area Community Foundation. She is a graduate of the Iron Mountain High School and plans to attend Bay College and pursue a career in accounting.

Uhazie introduced Tom Andes, speaker and former neighbor. Andes spoke on his “family business” of making maple syrup. The whole family is involved in the maple syrup process.

From the days of the indians experimentation with sap to todays more efficient methods — making the process easier and more proficient. The Indians discovered a watery substance coming from trees they had cut down to form their canoes. Cooking this liquid, they found the sweet taste was palatable and began using it in their cooking.

Over the years the tapping of certain trees brought about the discovery of sap and ideas began to emerge how to use this sweet tasting liquid. Many pancake and waffle eaters have enjoyed this sweet discovery.

In the ’40s people drilled holes inserted a wooden peg and hung a bucket. Checking the buckets often, using horses to haul the sap, bringing it to a wood fired rather large pan, boiling it down, and placing in containers — doesn’t sound too bad. However, it is far from easy. There is a time frame for collecting. Temperatures need to be above freezing in the day and below freezing at night. There ideal time is from March 1 to end of April — about 60 days.

Collecting the sap, preparing, boiling it down and placing it in containers is just a part of the entire process. Keeping the business just for his own use is certainly a labor of love and a sweet reward the whole family enjoys.

Today, Andes has a “sugar shack,” up-to-date equipment and a definite love for making the syrup. With family help and anyone else wanting to help they manage about 500 trees. To get a gallon of syrup they need to collected 40 gallons of sap. Andes checked with a gentleman in the Bark River area who does a much larger production. Learning about equipment and processing from someone who does a few thousand trees gave him a better understanding of the process and is content that he has a smaller operation to run.

Todays equipment consists of a drill, the spile (spout) metal, and bags which cut down fermentation problems. Bags are easier to dispose of and not as bulky as buckets, a large tractor for hauling sap and the boiler, all 2,500 pounds with fire bricks inside. Just a few of the items needed as well as containers for the finished product.

This is a sideline as Andes also has a sawmill and Theaters to oversee. He gave one bottle of syrup each to two Golden K members who answered his trivia questions. He fielded many questions and suggested anyone interested in the sap making process to check with the gentleman in Bark River.

He does tours at his facility and has school groups go through periodically.

The next Golden K meeting Monday will be at the Masonic Temple. The program will be with Lana Frantz from the Iron Mountain Women’s Club speaking on the June 29 “Art In The Park.” A suggested time for members to gather is 8:30 a.m. as equipment for the Golden K meeting needs to be moved from the church before their Bible School begins.

The Golden Throats will sing Wednesday at ManorCare.