HARRODSBURG, Ky. -- Guests who eat breakfast at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill probably don't even give a second thought to the syrup that covers their stacks of pancakes. But if they ask, they'll get a history lesson.
The maple syrup -- which is sold in 6-ounce bottles for $6.98 -- is processed on the property the same way the Shakers did it in the 1800s.
The Shakers at Pleasant Hill tapped the maple trees, but not to a great extent, said Ralph E. Ward II, museum program and agritourism manager. "It was not always successful. It was greatly dependent on the winter variations in the temperature.
"This process was much more common in the Northeast -- where the harsh winters require the trees to store up more starch in the trunks and roots for cold weather survival. This starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in the late winter and early spring."
Syrup making is mentioned as early as the 1830s but might have been done on a smaller scale much earlier, Ward said, adding that Shaker Village has been making the syrup for the past five years as an interpretive program. The yield is about 10 to 15 gallons of finished syrup each spring.
"Since the basic process is just cooking down (reducing), there is really no special training required. That being said, experience results in a much better product," Ward said.
Among the Shakers, tapping the trees and collecting the sap was men's work, he explained. The processing and cooking would be done by the women.
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is at 3501 Lexington Road in Harrodsburg.