A visit to Bisson's includes maple sundaes
By DEBRA THORNBLAD
Special to the Union Leader | March 13. 2014 12:04AM
But they were confident that perfect day would come when the March sun would become strong enough to start the sap running during the day, and cold enough at night to stop it. They hope enough sap will be flowing by that March weekend to be able to show visitors how syrup is made.
"We can tell by the number of sundaes we serve," Muriel said.
Bisson's sugar house began in 1921 when Lazarre Bisson began tapping his maple trees. He was a farmer, the spring was a slow time and sugaring complimented his farming business.
Lazarre died in 1936, and Armand and his wife Juliette took over the business. In the 1940s a tractor replaced the horses, making it possible to haul three 125-gallon tanks instead of just one. In 1953 the first sugar house, really just a shack, was torn down and the present sugar house built. In 1979 the conversion from buckets to tubing began.
As time went on, Lucien and Muriel learned the business from Armand and Juliette, and they began taking over more and more of the tasks.
In 1988 Lucien and Muriel took over management of the operation. Juliette died in 1990 and Armand in 2004.
"Tubing saved the sugar industry," Lucien said. "But what we put up then would be considered ancient now."
Tubing saves labor, he explained, and by then labor had begun to dry up. Before that, a lot of people were farmers and with spring a slow time, they were able to help out in the sugar industry. But as farms closed, people got full-time jobs and weren't available helping with sugaring as they were before.
The next major change in the industry was putting vacuums in the lines.
Putting a vacuum in the line tricks the tree, Lucien explained. The vacuum, which is very light, helps keeps the sap from retreating back into the tree at night when it gets cold. While the cold/hot cycle is still important, it's not as important.
The next major breakthrough in the industry related to the spouts put into the trees.
Researchers discovered when the sap does retreat back into the tree, bacteria in the plastic tubing helps heal the hole the tap makes. Sterile spouts that have a feature that doesn't allow sap to go back into the tree have prolonged the season by one or two weeks, Lucien explained. These spouts cost 45 cents each and are thrown away at the end of the season.
Today they lease sugar maple trees from stands that survived in two other locations.
Bisson's Sugar House will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, March 22-23. Tours will be available and the process of making maple syrup will be going on. Maple products will be available and everyone will get a complementary maple sundae.