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Keeping up a tradition; Making real maple syrup

Taking a moment out from a farm tour at Augusta Acres Farm in Wayne County on Saturday are Rachel Phinney, left, this year’s alternate Pennsylvania Maple Sweetheart; farm owners Sue and Todd Klikus; and Tracy Robinson, the new, reigning PA Maple Sweetheart. They are standing in front the farm’s sugarhouse, where maple sap is boiled and reduced to produce maple syrup.
TRR photos by Jane Bollinger

September 25, 2013

WAYNE COUNTY, PA — Pennsylvania’s new Maple Sweetheart was crowned on Friday night at the annual fall banquet of the PA Maple Producers Council held at The Settler’s Inn in Hawley. This year the statewide organization’s fall banquet and two-day tour was hosted by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Maple Producers Association and included visits to maple farms and sugarhouses in Wayne, Pike and Lackawanna counties. The sap, of course, flows in the spring, but these maple producers are too busy during sap season for this kind of get-together, a mix of fun, business and of sharing their own experiences making maple syrup.

Bright and early Saturday morning, the commonwealth’s new Maple Sweetheart, Tracy Robinson from Coudersport, and her alternate, Rachel Phinney from Meshoppen, proudly wearing their crowns and sashes, joined a busload of 40 to start day two of the tour at Todd and Sue Klikus’ Augusta Acres Farm on Peggy Runway Road, Berlin Township.

The farm is named after Sue’s grandmother, Augusta. And before heading off to inspect the sugarhouse (where the sap is boiled to the right syrupy consistency), Sue told the crowd how her grandmother “would go out to the sugar bush, where the sugar trees are, and she would build an arch with fieldstones… and she would set a two-by-four flat pan on that and build a fire underneath. She would stay out there (for as long as it took) boiling the sap.”

“That’s the way everybody did it back then,” she added. As a youngster, she recalls going with her grandparents to different sugar bushes around their property. “I can remember eating snow with (newly made) maple syrup on it.”

Earlier this year, the Klikuses put out 275 taps on the farm’s maple trees—sugar maple, red maple and silver maple. It was a good year. “We got 61 gallons of syrup,” Todd said. The previous year, he got only 17 gallons.

The Klikuses have been making syrup for four seasons, the first two years using three stainless steel hotel-size warming pans on a cinderblock arch, but that was before Todd got serious and built his evaporator, got the sugarhouse inspected and got his food license. He now sells some of their product to a health food store in Honesdale and to a restaurant in Narrowsburg, NY.