Visiting the Farm Questions
What is there for kids to do?
The farm visit is appropriate for families, we have a few farm animals during the warm months. You can learn about making maple syrup in the sugarhouse with our video and enjoy cheese and maple syrup samples.
When can we see maple syrup being made?
Maple syrup is made during the spring. Most years it is in March, sometimes late Feb and/or the first two weeks of April. Sap flows from maple trees with weather of cold nights and warm days alternately, so sap boiling doesn’t happen every day. Best to call a day before visiting to verify when we will be boiling.
How can I learn about maple syrup making during the times of year when sap does not flow?
The rest of the year besides the sugaring months, our sugar house is turned in to an educational display building with an 8 minute video that shows the syrup making process along with exhibits to show how it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
I understand your farm is on a gravel (not paved) hilly road, can I get there with a regular car?
Sugarbush Farm is located 5 miles outside Woodstock on a town maintained gravel road. During snow and ice storms and sometimes during the early spring it would be beneficial to have all wheel, 4 wheel drive or good snow tires. To check our road conditions please call 800-281-1757. Usually after a snow storm the road is sanded and is safe for regular cars. During the summer and fall the road is always well maintained.
How long should I allow for a visit to the farm?
Most folks spend about an hour at the farm including about 10-15 minutes to taste various varieties of cheese and the grades of maple syrup along with explanations about storage, uses and traveling. The sugar house self tour takes from 10 minutes to a lot longer if you want to read and look at each exhibit. The maple walk in the woods is about 15 minutes and shows how maple trees grow and are tapped. Our farm store is stocked with Vermont products from over 50 little businesses, so your shopping depends on your needs and time frame. We are about 10 minutes from both Woodstock and Quechee where you will find more attractions, restaurants and shopping.
Can I milk a cow at your farm?
No, our cheese is made at several farmer owned cooperative creameries and comes here to be aged and smoked in 40 pound blocks. We had dairy cows for 35 years which we milked and sent the milk to the local cheese plants that we still get our cheese from.
Do you serve meals at the farm?
We have a picnic area and sell packaged foods such as cheeses, crackers, candy bars, cold drinks, maple candy and snack sticks, but we do not have an actual snack bar. There are many places to either buy a picnic lunch or eat in a restaurant in Woodstock and Quechee. We do not have lodging, but many lodging places within half an hour.
If I buy cheese during the warmer months, is it safe to carry home with me?
Cheese is packaged in foil and wax and does very well for several days at room temperature. So carrying in an air conditioned car, leaving in a hotel room, or putting in your suitcase and flying home are safe. Cheese was invented over 2000 years ago as a way to preserve dairy products in Roman times, when there were no refrigerators. If you are planning on stopping frequently or have a long trip, we suggest a small cooler. We actually sell gel ice packs and insulated lunch tote bags. Most hotels and bed and breakfasts either have refrigerators in the rooms or are glad to keep in a refrigerator until you are ready to go home.
I don’t have room in my suitcase for all the Vermont products I want to take home, can you ship them home for me?
We ship packages every day by United Parcel and the United States Post Office. Maple syrup, jams, candies and mustards can be safely shipped year round. Cheese shipped during hot weather (75 and over) may get soft and greasy, so we suggest either taking the cheese with you and shipping the heavy items, or we may suggest you use our insulated shipping carton with ice pack. Shipments can be delayed until you are sure to be home or a later cooler day. You can send gifts direct from the farm store to friends.
Are dogs allowed?
Dogs are welcome on a leash visiting the farm, on the maple walk and in the sugar house only. We request that there are no dogs in the tasting room or farm store due to cheese being sampled.
What facilities do you have at your farm?
There are two public bathrooms in our farm store. Our tasting room and farm store are in an 1865 farm house with two steps leading up to the ground floor. Should someone in your group have mobility concerns, we are glad to bring our cheese and syrup sampling to your car. Handicapped parking is near our entrance.
Can cheese be frozen?
When cheese is frozen, the texture changes and it doesn’t keep as long when thawed. We only suggest freezing cheese if you see that it has been open too long and is starting to grow mold. Our best suggestion for freezing cheese is to shred it, freeze it on a cookie sheet for a couple hours, then scoop up and place in a plastic bag where a handful or a cup is easily able to be taken out of the frozen bag. Bleu cheese is already crumbly, so it can be more safely frozen than most cheeses.
How long will my waxed cheeses keep in my refrigerator after I receive them?
Waxed unopened bars of cheese will keep several months in a refrigerator. The Jack, Sage, Bleu and VT Light have a higher moisture content and should be eaten somewhat sooner. Once the waxed bar is opened wrap as air tight as possible, usually with foil, plastic wrap or a plastic bag to keep as much air out as possible. The well wrapped open bar should keep about a month refrigerated.
What if I find mold on my cheese?
Cut off the mold and any cheese directly behind the cheese that appears soft. The rest of the cheese should be fine.
My cheese looks puffy or oily, is it ok to eat?
If cheese gets very warm the butter fat may become somewhat liquid and make the package look a bit greasy. This is not harmful, just refrigerate until firm. A somewhat ballooned cheese results when the package becomes warm enough for some of the cheese’s aging gas to start to “work” and since the waxed package is air tight, the gas is trapped inside which makes the package swell up a bit. When opened it may give off a strong smell which will go away with the disappearance of the trapped gas.
Where can I buy your products besides your farm?
Our web site lists almost all our products. If you can’t find something you saw here, call us at 800-281-1757 and let us help you. Some of our varieties of cheese are sold at some local Vermont and New England stores. Our maple syrup is only sold here at the farm and in our catalog and web site. We do not make enough syrup to sell to any other stores.
Explain Why Some Cheese is White and some is Yellow/Orange
Cheese’s main ingredient is milk which is creamy white, any cheese that has a definite orange yellow hue has been colored. Normally this coloring is derived from a plant called annatto which comes from Central and South America. Color does not affect the flavor or texture, but New England folks are all about not adding something that is not necessary, so none of our cheddar cheese is colored.
Is Sugarbush Farm’s cheese made from Pasteurized Milk?
All our cheeses are made from pasteurized milk except for the Sage cheese.
Please explain why Extra Sharp Cheddar contains no lactose and is suitable for people who are lactose intolerant.
When cheese is being made most of the lactose is in the whey which is drained off, leaving the curds. Any remaining lactose has dissipated by the time the cheese is aged certainly to 3 years old and probably by 18 months.
What kind of rennet is used in the making of cheese to separate the solids from the liquids?
All commercial cheese making facilities have stopped using animal rennet. Vegetable based rennet is an enzyme which is used to coagulate the milk and separate the curds from the whey. So all Sugarbush cheese is suitable for vegetarian's.
Why does aged cheese sometimes become crumbly. What are the hard white objects in my Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese?
As cheese ages, it typically becomes drier and more crumbly in texture. If you prefer to have cheese less crumbly call and ask which of our cheeses would be best for you. The little crunchy you feel in Extra Sharp Cheddar are protein crystals called Tyrosine. They are completely harmless and are proof that the cheese really has been aged extensively.
If you prefer not to have them in your cheese call to ask which of our cheeses would not have them. Both the crumbliness and crunchiness of cheddar varies from batch to batch but probably would not be present in any cheese less than 3 years old.
Maple Syrup Questions
How long will maple syrup keep?
Maple syrup can be stored in your cupboard unopened or in your refrigerator after opening for 2 years.
Can maple syrup be frozen?
Maple syrup may be frozen as long as some is taken out of the container to allow for expansion. A good way to keep a large jug of syrup is to keep some in a smaller container in your refrigerator and place the rest of the container in the freezer. It may be thawed in about 2 hours, some poured off for the refrigerator container and then refrozen several times.
Does it hurt to heat maple syrup & then return some to the container?
Maple syrup tastes much better heated a bit (30 seconds in a microwave does great). Its fine to put any left over from a meal back in to the jug.
What is the difference between Pure Vermont Maple syrup and Pancake Syrups like Mrs. Butterworth and Aunt Jemima?
Pure Maple Syrup is made from maple sap which flows from the hard rock maple tree. It contains no preservatives, no added sugar, no coloring or chemicals. Pancake syrups usually contain no maple syrup, but are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, imitation maple flavors and preservatives are added.
What are the crystals that sometimes form in the bottom of my maple syrup jug?
When syrup is stored for a long time, a few maple sugar crystals form in the bottom of the jug. Pour off all the syrup, pour in a small amount of boiling water and shake the jug to break up the crystals and use the liquid to baste some meat. Crystals are usually clear colored but are definably maple.
I forgot to refrigerate my syrup after I opened it. Is it still good?
If syrup is opened and not refrigerated for some time it may start to ferment and become sour. Sour syrup has a distinctive sour smell and should be discarded. If kind of a brown scum forms on the top and the syrup is not sour, you may skim off the top, boil the syrup (be sure to allow enough room for the syrup to double in volume) and skim off anything that comes to the top.
Orders and Payments
How do I change an order that is already placed?
If you requested immediate shipment it usually is sent the same day we receive it so we need the change by mid day. If it is an order for some time in the future we may be able to change it. Holiday shipments are prepacked and stored off site in a refrigerated warehouse so may not be able to be changed. United Parcel shipments can be rerouted after shipment for a sizeable fee.
Do you keep records of what I purchased in the past?
Generally our office staff from 9-5 weekdays can look up previous items, names and addresses for you. Call 800-281-1757
Do you keep my credit card information on file?
Due to strict restrictions placed on us by credit card companies in an effort to make shopping secure, Sugarbush Farm no longer keeps credit card numbers on file. We do ask for the security code on orders as an added level of security.
Can you make up special combination gift pack orders for me?
Anything we have for sale on our web site or farm store can be made up into a pretty gift pack. Call 800-281-1757 for attention to special gifts or large quantity orders.
I have questions about special shipping like to Post Office boxes, Alaska, Hawaii, International, APO. Can you help me?
Most of these questions are addressed on the shipping and handling section. Please call us at 800-281-1757 and we will be glad to help you.
Is a receipt or catalog included with gift orders?
We do not include receipts or a catalog with gift orders.