March 2009 Issue
Ohioan - Dr. Joseph Lavelle
Amesville maple-syrup maker
MAPLE SYRUP ENTHUSIAST
PERSONAL: Dr. Lavelle lives in Troy with Mary Elaine, his wife of 64 years. The two have eight children, 18 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. A retired veterinarian, Lavelle has turned his attention to making the perfect maple syrup.
EVERY YEAR: When the sap starts to flow in mid to late winter, he and his lifelong friend Neal White and a group of friends and family head to Coonskin Sugar Bush, the Lavelle family farm in Amesville. They tap trees for sap, which they boil into maple syrup.
RAISED ON THE STUFF: “My dad and I used to haul the sap in with a horse and sled and boil it outside in a huge metal pot,” says Lavelle. The operation has since modernized, and today Lavelle and his crew are capable of collecting about 10,000 gallons of sap (60 gallons of sap produce one gallon of syrup).
THE PROCESS: “We collect sap for four or five days and empty the sap buckets two times a day if it’s flowing well,” says Lavelle. As the sap is collected, it is taken to the sugar house, boiled into syrup, packaged and later shared with friends.
SWEET SCIENCE: According to Lavelle, maple syrup must be boiled to a 66 percent sugar content to be considered pure. Too much over 66 percent and the syrup will crystallize, too much under and the syrup will be thin and runny. Mastering the process is no easy job, but the rewards are sweet.
HOW HE TAKES HIS SYRUP: Lavelle puts it on carrots and drops it on ice cream, but his favorite way to eat maple syrup? “On waffles or pancakes,” he says.