The U.P. Sugar Shack Difference
Over the years, Mark has learned the fine art of crafting Pure Maple Syrup — it keeps his customers coming back again and again. Don’t be fooled by the bottles of pancake syrup on supermarket shelves. The taste of Pure Maple Syrup is far and away superior.
Each sugaring season is different, of course, because Pure Maple Syrup relies on nature and nature is always changing. There’s always a challenge to making consistent Pure Maple Syrup, the syrup the U.P. Sugar Shack customers know and love.
A Brief History of The UP Sugar Shack
The U.P. Sugar Shack is a Majszak family business started in 1967.
That winter, we dug through the deep snow to find Granddad’s clay and rock arch. The arch was built right into the ground!
Once the arch was found we went back to the barn and got his pan and buckets then, began sugaring. (Boiling sap to syrup)
The next summer, Granddad passed. We moved to the farm, and switched to a new sugar bush and added more than 150 buckets.
Those were fun times. Friends and family came out to the farm to “help” make syrup — mostly playing and chatting, of course.
In 1979, Dad and Mom Majszak decided to make the syrup into a business and started building it into what was then Michigan’s largest sugar shack, with 17,000 taps of our own and 3,000 to 5,000 more taps we buy sap from.
Mark Majszak bought the business in 1996 and moved to the Upper Peninsula, looking for a spot where people travel, a spot that was easy to find and a spot with plenty of maple trees. Historic Blaney Park is perfect in every way. We’re only one hour from the Mackinac Bridge, right on U.S. 2.
Mark now has more than 2,100 taps — pretty good for a one-man operation. Needless to say, it’s a sweet job, making the goodness we all love and enjoy.
My How Things Have Changed
It takes about 40 to 45 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of Pure Maple Syrup.
Maple syrup operations have changed since the clay and rock in-ground arches of Granddad’s time. Now there’s high-efficiency wood burning and oil-fired evaporators. Wooden buckets were replaced by galvanized buckets and, now, “sap sacks,” which keep the rain and snow from mixing with the sap. Wooden spiles were replaced by steel, cased and rolled and now tubing systems that take advantage of gravity. A vacuum increases sap volume.
With the larger volume of sap came the need for energy-saving equipment. Reverse osmosis helps concentrate the sap so less boiling is needed, hence saving fuel.
Reverse osmosis is micro filtration. The sap is forced through membranes at high pressure (anywhere between 300 and 500 pounds per square inch). The water molecules can pass through the membranes but the sugar (and mineral) molecules can’t. In effect, it concentrates the sap, doing as much as three-quarters of the work without boiling, thus saving fuel.
Making The World Sweeter One Bottle at a Time
Maple syrup is an all-natural sweetener. We simply boil sap to remove excess water, leaving pure maple syrup in all its goodness. Not only does the boiling remove excess water, but it gives the syrup its rich color and flavor. Maple syrup is a great sweetener to have in the kitchen, to use in your coffee, in baking and, of course, on your pancakes. Because of the simple process, maple syrup has nutritional value, something many people aren’t aware of. So don’t feel guilty — pour some more on those waffles.