Get your Rocky Mountain (sugar) high in Vail
VAIL CO, Colorado
There is a common question that maple syrup maestro Tim Burton asks – and usually stumps – the people who sample his sugary elixir.
“How many gallons of sap does it take to make one gallon of maple syrup?” he quizzes them, often before the sweetness has disappeared from their tongue.
The most common guess is 10 gallons.
“When we say it takes 40 gallons to make one gallon of maple syrup, people are shocked,” said the Indiana-based syrup purveyor, and owner of Burton’s Maplewood Farm.
It’s a question Tim asked plenty of Gourmet on Gore attendees last year. He’s back at the festival again this year, with his bottles of maple syrup in tow.
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“The event last year was great – our barrel-aged maple syrups were well received and we had many people asking if we would be back again this year,” Tim said. “Since many of the people attending Gourmet on Gore vacation or have a second home in Vail, we have received many online orders from all around the United States. There’s a husband and wife who have become big fans of our farms maple syrup that they offered to let us stay in one of their homes in Vail during this years event – from where we’re from that’s called ‘Hoosier hospitality’ and it’s great to be so welcomed.”
Over the years, the Burtons’ syrup has attracted quite a following. Tim, and his wife Angie, got to eat chicken and waffles, topped with his pride-and-joy rum-infused maple syrup, with Oprah at her going-away brunch after her last show at the Lincoln Center.
Over the years, Tim’s collaborated with many well known Chicago chefs, and is in the process of crafting a special signature syrup – a bourbon Tabasco maple syrup – for Dickie Brennan, owner of Brennans and the Commanders Palace in New Orleans. His most recent partnership, though, is with Chef Jason Harrison of Flame in the Four Seasons in Vail. “This is one of our most exciting collaborations yet,” Tim said. “Chef Jason has arranged for a used barrel from Breckenridge Distillery to be shipped to my farm in Indiana so that we can start the aging process. I know Chef Harrison is planning to create a bourbon maple-themed dinner during the ski season and we’re discussing the possibility of us coming out for that event.”
While it’s hard to improve on something as naturally perfect as pure maple syrup, the Burtons seem to have found a way. Drawing inspiration from small-batch distillers, Tim re-purposes used rum, bourbon and brandy barrels as storage vessels and hot-packs the maple syrup with the goal of infusing his amber elixir with the subtle, yet distinctive, flavors of each respective spirit.
This weekend at Gourmet on Gore (they’re also showcasing their syrups at the Minturn Farmers Market today) the Burtons will give samples of a two grades of maple syrup, as well as the barrel-aged syrups, which provoke the most interest, Tim said.
“You can see people’s culinary wheels turning as to what dishes they can use our syrups in or on,” he said. “The most common reply is braising salmon on the grill, pork belly, bread pudding or simply drizzling over vanilla ice cream.”
That’s one question to which there is no wrong answer.
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at email@example.com.