Sizzle Simmer Sauté–Maple Syrup Season at the Sugar Shack

Jennifer Ruple

Check out all of my recipes on The Sylvania Advantage Website ( titled SIZZLE SIMMER SAUTÉ.

A recent warm and sunny (and very muddy) Saturday gave me the perfect opportunity to take a little road trip to Brick “n” Brecher Sugar Shack in Green Springs, Ohio to learn how sap is processed into maple syrup. The Sugar Shack, located about 10 miles southeast of Fremont at 6474 State Route 228, is in the midst of its fifth season of production.
Co-owner Tom Brickley, who is an annual vendor at the Sylvania Farmers Market, invited me to tour his and his business partner Craig Erchenbrecher’s adjoining properties that house their business. “We produce the syrup on my property and the woods with the sugar maple trees is on Erchenbrecher’s property,” explained Brickley. “Brick “n” Brecher is a combination of both our names.”

“I believe what makes our maple syrup unique is our location in Seneca County. The soil here makes the syrup taste more buttery, and we’ve got a hilly terrain that sugar maples like. We also process our sap daily instead of waiting until we have a lot collected. That has a lot to do with it,” offered Brickley.
The two became interested in maple syrup production after attending a nearby event, Maple Syrup Days with all-you-can-eat pancakes and locally made syrup. “We looked around our land and knew we had at least a couple of hundred sugar maples in just one section. I said, ‘we should do this,’ and I ordered an evaporator,” said Brickley. Brickley and Erchenbrecher hope to host Maple Syrup Days on their properties sometime in the future.
Approximately 200 gallons of maple syrup are produced each season by the Sugar Shack team consisting of Brickley, Erchenbrecher, Tom’s sister Deanna Brickley, and Tom’s girlfriend Teresa Harvey. Although each member of the foursome has a full-time job, the group sets aside their evenings and weekends for syrup production during the season, which averages about eight to 10 weeks. It all depends on Mother Nature though, “If the temperature drops to the mid-20s at night and hits the mid-40s during the day, you can produce sap. However, once it’s above freezing at night for seven to 10 days, we’re finished,” explained Brickley.

Brickley and Erchenbrecher use a vacuum system that extracts the sap from the sugar maples and empties it into tanks. Each day the tanks are collected and brought back to the Sugar Shack for immediate processing to keep the sap from spoiling. To begin with, the sap is run through reverse osmosis to concentrate the sugar in the sap. A large, wood-fired evaporator then separates the water and the sugar further through rapid boiling. Prior to bottling, the syrup is run through a filter press.
Four grades of syrup are produced including delicate, amber, dark and very dark. Brickley explained that delicate happens early in the season because daytime temperatures are cooler. As daytime temperatures climb later in the season, the sap comes out darker.
Brick “n” Brecher maple syrup is available in various sizes from ½ pints to five-gallon jugs and is primarily sold during farmers market season in Sylvania, Perrysburg, Woodville, Fremont, Fostoria and Pemberville. It also may be purchased at T-Jay’s Farm Market in Fremont and at The Sugar Shack. To visit the Sugar Shack, call 419-307-3712 ahead, or visit their Facebook page for hours and directions.
The Sugar Shack offers other products during market season including maple sugar, maple candies and lollipops, maple cotton candy and maple cream, which is made by boiling maple syrup at a higher temperature, putting it into an ice bath, allowing it to sit in the refrigerator, and then stirring until it’s a peanut butter consistency. “There are a ton of things you can do with maple cream. I could eat it out of the jar,” laughed Brickley. “You can put it on toast, rolls, ice cream, or use it as a fruit dip. It’s a unique product for sure.”

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