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Home » Farm Women

Betty Messer, Sunday Mountain Maple Farm, Orford, NH

By Helen Brody (February 3, 2009)

blm-evaporator(Please note: Betty retired from the sugaring business – 2016)

The full-time bookkeeper, packager, shipper, and marketer of Sunday Mountain Maple Farm  is a 68 year old woman named Betty Messer. She also constitutes the sales staff for the New Hampshire farm. It was just over 20 years ago that Betty’s husband, Paul, turned in his badge at the Hanover Police Department to run their maple syrup business full time, and 12 years later, Betty retired from the Hanover Town Clerk’s office to join the budding syrup business–over 50 years of sugaring. As for Betty’s leisure retirement, the sugarhouse is open dawn to dusk, seven days a week “and sometimes the open sign is even left out over night,” she says. And then quickly adds “but we do we take two weeks off each year for a vacation.”As the family farmhouse is right behind the sugar house, during the off season, when the sugar house is not heated by the boiling syrup, customers ring the bell at the farmhouse and she will insist on leading them down to the sugar house where Paul keeps his collection of antique sugaring equipment. She delights in explaining the importance of sugaring in the development of New Hampshire as a state. To prove its importance to the colonial diet and to the economy in the past, as well as today, she describes each product that the sap yields.

Customers enthusiastically taste the A & B grades of maple syrup, maple candy, maple cream, brick sugar, and Indian sugar. The brick sugar is in the form of a brick, exactly the way the Indians and early settlers kept their sugar before the late 1800s. “Keeping it in brick form was the only way the Indians and settlers could store syrup as liquid containers did not come into being until the late 1800s”,she says. Similar to the past, cooks today chip away at the block to sweeten their foods. Those chunks that fall into their oatmeal or grated over an apple pie as it comes out of the oven, are delectable.

The last product in boiling down the sap, after the syrup, candy, cream and brick sugar stages have been reached, is what the Messers call Indian sugar, a granulated maple sugar, which is a delicious product when put on oatmeal, into coffee or tea or melted onto a custard as with a crème brulée. Indian sugar is, however, the most difficult to make; it can burn very quickly and ruin a lot of good syrup.

Betty does ship their products, but 50 percent of their sales are from the sugar house. “We like to take care of our syrup by keeping it under cool conditions and it also allows us to have a competitive price in the area to satisfy our customers. The Messer syrup won best in New Hampshire for 2008 so she knows whereof she speaks.

Betty and Paul Messer
Sunday Mountain Maple Farm
2827 Rte. 25A (one mile East of Rte 10)
Orford, NH 03777
603-353-3883

(for more information see “farm profiles”)

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