When Greg and Jeff Jelliff were young boys they helped a neighbor collect sap from maple trees. As they got a little older, the Jelliff boys talked their father, Leland Jelliff, into building them a small evaporator in a shack. They started tapping their own trees. They sold the sap to other maple producers, but kept enough to make syrup for their own family and friends.
As the Jelliff brothers grew up and became busy with life, they didn’t have time to continue the maple tapping until one day, when they started reminiscing about the old days.
They bought a small flat evaporating pan to show their children. Greg’s son, Andrew wanted to use it for an FFA project when he was in high school. The whole family pitched in and things just grew from there. They bought a 2-foot by 4-foot evaporator.
In 2015 they built a sugar/sap house and put in a larger evaporator. The following year they were fully operational, selling maple syrup and other products. That was the year they purchased a large reverse osmosis machine that removes a lot of the water out of the sap to help concentrate it before it is evaporated. It’s a time and energy saver.
“It will process 600 gallons of sap an hour,” said Greg. “It removes near 75 percent of the water.”
Since 2016, Jelliff’s Maple has increased their number of taps.
This year they started a new monitoring system. They have a computer system in the house. Temperature and vacuum sensors are in the woods on their branch lines and trunk lines.
“It allows us to see what’s going on in the woods,” explained Greg. “We can pin point problems and where we’re getting good vacuum. The vacuum helps us extract more sap. Then we can make more products.”
“If we have a problem in the woods, it helps us fix it right away,” continued Greg. “It helps us improve our efficiency.”
This new monitoring system has put Jelliff’s Maple on the cutting edge of maple production.
“There are parts of this that are very technical,” said Greg. “And parts that haven’t changed in hundreds of years.”
This is evident in the new monitoring system, which uses computers compared to the old fashioned sifting method they use to get granular maple sugar separated from the maple crumbles.
Jelliff’s Maple sells many products including pure maple syrup, maple sugar, maple mustard, sauces, candies, maple French dressing, barbecues, seasonings, coffee and much more.
“The French Dressing and Dipping Mustard are a big hit at the Froelich house,” said Tracy Froelich.
They have created their own cookbook – “All Things Maple” that is available for sale.
“We develop all our own recipes,” said Roberta Jelliff. “I’m the vice-president in charge of product development.”
Their maple cream and maple caramels took second place at the 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Show.
They will be set up at this year’s Endless Mountains Maple Festival in Troy, as well as other local events. On Sept. 13 and 14 they will be part of the Pennsylvania Fall Maple Tour.
There will be an Open House at Jelliff’s Maple from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 16 and Sunday, March 17, which coincides with the Endless Mountains Maple Producers Association “Maple Weekend.” They will be offering tours of their state-of-the-art sugarhouse, and samples of their maple hotdogs, maple lemonade, and other delicious maple products. If weather permits, they will be boiling sap. There will be door prizes and fun for the whole family.
Jelliff’s Maple is located on the Berwick Turnpike in Bentley Creek and is open by appointment. For more information, call (570) 596-4275 or (570) 596-2839. They are also on Facebook.
At Jelliff’s Maple they always say, “We keep busy doing what we truly enjoy – making quality maple syrup and maple products.”