Yesterday, I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon in Willington, CT at Passardi Maple on 76 Potter School Road, where I watched the Passardi family, with Noah Passardi at the helm, prepare their maple syrup. I discovered their sign on a drive through Willington a couple of weeks ago and had stopped at their sugar-house with my Mom. As luck would have it, they were setting up lines and taps for their trees to begin the process of collecting syrup. While we were there, Richard Passardi took the time to walk us through the maple syrup producing process and was kind enough to have me come back for a visit to watch and videotape the production. I was able to see and even taste the raw material that comes dripping out of the trees and was astonished to discover that it looks like water and tastes only slightly sweet. I was guided through the entire process from syrup collection, to the boiling/evaporation process that concentrates it down and gives it the deep rich color that maple syrup is known for. I watched how they filter, grade, and finally bottle the finished product. The best part, though, was in the tasting. I was able to try one of their grade A and grade B syrups and was amazed that the seemingly simple (but actually not so simple) process of boiling had converted a thin, clear liquid into something so deliciously rich and sweet.
But what impressed me more than anything about my experience, was witnessing the care and teamwork demonstrated by the Passardi family. While I was there, they worked tirelessly to collect the syrup from their tanks, ensure that the syrup boiled just right, bottled it promptly, and kept the house neat and organized. And besides maple syrup, Noah Passardi keeps bees that produce honey and he pours beeswax candles (which I prefer because they burn cleaner than paraffin wax).
Everyone wore many hats and helped where they were needed to keep the operation running smoothly. In fact, I don’t know of a better way to describe the effort except to call it a labor of love. I spent several hours with the Passardi family, and when I left, they had many more hours of work to go before they were finished for the day. For me, watching how the Passardi family produced their maple syrup was an education and I felt good about buying their product. And I will tell you that this morning, I used their delicious grade B maple syrup on my spelt pancakes. I believe the biggest benefit to visiting the Passardi family’s sugar-house, though, was something much more important than knowledge. A sense of community develops when people become acquainted with those that are producing the food that they eat and those types of relationships are the glue that keep us all human and doing things for the good of everyone. And that's exactly how I felt at the end of the afternoon.
If you’re ever in Willington, CT stop by Passardi Maple for some outstanding maple syrup, honey, or candles. I’m happy I did…