This Christmas, we are going back to Tracey's roots and presenting a ‘Canadian Christmas’. A carefully curated selection of gifts sourced from independent brands, different regions of Canada and completely exclusive, not sold anywhere else in the UK apart from Tracey Neuls London.
Graeme Foers is the person behind Tapped Out Small Batch, the quintessential Canadian maple syrup. Read on to find out how he creates a taste unlike any other maple syrup available, and why Tapped Out has a cult-like following around the world.
What made you quit your day job and run off into the woods?
I was working in advertising and realized that I no longer was enjoying it. I tried to remember the times I was most happy in life, and that was when I was making maple syrup. Looking back on it now, I realize that I was missing the meaningfulness in my life.
Where did you draw inspiration to start your work with artisanal produce?
I have made maple syrup since I was five years old, in the same forest and with the same trees that I make maple syrup today. When I left my job, I decided to try and turn what was always my hobby into a business. So I did and Tapped Out Small Batch Maple Syrup was born.
What’s your favourite part of the process of making maple syrup or honey? What are the most special moments?
That’s a tough question to answer. I enjoy the entire process, that’s really what draws me to making maple syrup. Creating something by hand, the physical labour of splitting wood, collecting sap and feeding the fires, all together create an amazing experience. If I had to choose one part, It would be seeing the final product in the bottle. It's rewarding to be able to hold your hard work and even more so have so many people around the world enjoy it.
Favourite food to have your syrup with?
Pancakes made from scratch. On my pancakes, I get one pancake, then cover it with a layer of plain yogurt (not vanilla) then I warm up some frozen berries, often a mix of raspberries and blueberries, but any berries will do and I put those on top of the yogurt. Then I pour my maple syrup on top of the berries. It’s the best!
What's something people usually don't know about maple syrup?
Pure maple syrup has absolutely nothing added to it to create the flavour. It is made entirely from sap collected early in the spring from sugar maples. The act of boiling creates a chemical reaction in the sap the brings out the distinct maple flavours and colours. Also, maple syrup is only made for a short time in the spring when nighttime temperatures are below freezing and daytime temperatures are above freezing.
Is sustainability an important part of your work ethic?
Yes, it has to be when you are taking from the earth. I routinely ‘rest’ trees some years and don’t harvest any sap from them. I am also careful to only take what the tree is willing to give through a traditional spile and bucket, I don't use any vacuum lines in my operation. For firewood, I burn wood that comes from my forest. I collect all of my wood from storm damage or trees that die from diseases or old age.
Do you notice an effect on your life that this project has made? Has it changed anything for you personally?
Yes, making maple syrup is part of me. Something inside of me awakens when the maples begin to wake up from their long winter sleep. During the maple syrup season, the entire forest goes from dormant to bursting with life and I get to see this amazing transformation. During the maple syrup season, I never leave the forest unless it's for supplies from the maple syrup supply store. I sleep in my cabin in the woods, eat by the fires, and spend long nights listening to the wolves howling. For the weeks when I am making maple syrup I am a part of the woods. It’s truly an incredible experience that I love to go through each year.
How would you like this project to develop?
For me, I don't really want to expand a huge amount more. A lot of big operations are running thousands or tens of thousands of taps. I am currently at 300 and would like to expand to 500. Other than that, I just want Tapped Out to last. I would like to continue to make maple syrup as long as I can and continue to take care of the forest so that it will allow me to. I really discovered a big part of what I was missing in my life and would love to help others do that as well. Don’t be afraid to do something that is outside of the norm. If you have a dream chase it, it won’t chase you.
See more photos of Graeme's work here.
Photography by Steven Kim.
It begins to look a lot like Christmas at Coal Drops Yard.