The Anderson’s Maple Syrup Family
Paul Anderson started Anderson’s Maple Syrup in 1928. He began by making syrup as a hobby, to put something sweet on the family’s breakfast table. When his son Norman was old enough, he began helping make syrup and eventually the two ran the business together. Paul and Norman grew the business and now, three generations later, Paul’s grandson, Norman’s son, Steve Anderson carries on the family tradition.
In the mid-1930s, Paul began selling the entire year’s supply of syrup to Hoves, which would later become Lunds, and is now part of the Lunds & Byerlys chain. Paul eventually added other routes through parts of Wisconsin and into Northern Minnesota. The syrup distribution business grew and in the late 40s, Paul and Norman decided there was greater opportunity to be had in the maple syrup business than in farming. They took a giant step, sold all their cows and jumped head first into the maple syrup business. They knew this was a huge risk, but they worked hard and built the business that thrives today.
Steve has been in charge of Anderson’s Maple Syrup, Inc., with much guidance from his father Norman, since 1997, when he graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Steve has great plans just as his father and grandfather did, to make Anderson’s Maple Syrup, Inc. the best company that it can be.
Even though this may sound impressive, Anderson’s Maple Syrup is still a small, family-run business. With Steve heading up operations and sales, and his sister Christine in charge of food safety, Anderson family members are involved in every aspect of the business. Steve’s wife Alison and his children Ben and Mya actively help as support staff. The packaging and delivery of Anderson’s Maple Syrup is handled by a small group of dedicated employees. At 90 years old as of June 2018, Norman Anderson still plays an important role as mentor.
The Maple Syrup Story
History reveals several explanations for the discovery of maple syrup. A widely accepted story of how the everyday activity of boiling water to prepare a meal turned into an important agricultural discovery. The story says a Native American woman placed her cooking pot under a maple tree before bed one evening, where she could easily find it the next morning when she would take it to the spring to gather water for cooking. When her partner came home from a long, unsuccessful day of hunting, in frustration he plunged his hatchet into the pulp of the maple tree above where the woman set the pot.
The next morning, the hunter woke early to resume his search for meat. When the woman woke, she noticed the cooking pot under the tree was already full of water. Assuming her partner filled the pot, she was silently thankful and began warming the water over the fire, hopeful that her hunter would bring home some meat to cook.
What she thought was water was actually sap from the maple tree. As the liquid boiled and steam rolled off of the pot, the woman discovered the liquid had darkened and the flavor sweetened. She had made the first pot of pure maple syrup.
Native Americans regarded the sap of the maple tree as a direct gift from the Great Spirit. They welcomed the sugaring season each year with a great thanksgiving celebration. Maple syrup, and the directions to make it, were among the first gifts given to white settlers, who embraced the process of tapping the trees and making maple syrup. Maple syrup was an important part of surviving the long, cold northern winters for the Native Americans and settlers alike.
Maple forests are only found in the northeast quarter of the North American continent. The trees thrive only in a specific region from New England to Minnesota and the Canadian provinces that border on those states. Some small maple forests may also be found as far south as Kentucky and Virginia. As a result, other regions know very little about the difference between pure maple syrup and imitation maple syrup that is found side by side in grocery stores. Always look at the ingredients. If there are none listed, or if only pure maple syrup is listed, then you have the best sweetener nature has given us. If there are ingredients listed other than pure maple syrup, put it back! It is not the pure maple syrup that is so great on your pancakes!
Color is an important factor in grading and classifying maple syrup. The top grade is Golden Color with Delicate Taste. This syrup is very pale in color with a mild maple flavor. Most people who are not real maple syrup connoisseurs do not like this grade as much as the next two grades. Amber Color with a Rich Flavor is a little darker in color than the Golden, but still has a mild flavor. Dark Color with a Robust Flavor is, of course, a little darker yet, but is not so dark that you cannot see through it and is fairly light compared to commercial/industrial syrup. Dark and Amber are the two most popular grades. They are flavorful, but not over-powering like the commercial/industrial grades. Finally, commercial/industrial grade syrup has a very strong flavor and is generally darker in color. It is great for cooking, baking and flavoring, but many feel it is too strong a flavor for pancakes. Each of these grades of syrup are made the same way. The time of season the syrup was made and the condition of the sap collected will cause these variations in grade. Anderson’s Maple Syrup, Inc. makes sure that our Grade A syrups are always between Amber and Dark in color and have a good Robust flavor.
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The darker the syrup, the stronger its flavor.