Bio: Strangfeld Sugar Shack, Five Generations (Mar - 2016)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Strangfeld, Stehli

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 3/16/2016

Strangfeld Sugar Shack, Five Generations Strong (March - 2016)

Strangfeld Sugar Shack, Five Generations Strong

Many of the members of Strangfelds Sugar Shack maple syrup crew take time out to pose for a group photo. Shown (front l-r) Lee Strangfeld, Jackie and Herman Strangfeld, Lucas Strangfeld, (back) Andy and Tessa Urban, Jeanne Strangfeld, Morgan Strangfeld, Jeff Strangfeld and Matt Strangfeld. (Contributed Photo)

By Nancy Curtin

Maple syrup season is upon us and local producers are hard at work to gather as much sap as they can before the season comes to an end.

One local family has been making maple syrup since 1954. Jeff Strangfeld of Neillsville learned the business from his grandfather, John Strangfeld, while growing up. He has involved his sons, matt and Lee, and his daughter, Elizabeth, since there were toddlers.

The Strangfeld family currently owns and resides on a 20-acre parcel of land rich with maple trees just outside the city limits.

In keeping with the family tradition, they operate using the traditional method of making syrup.

This year, the Strangfelds manually tapped roughly 100 trees using a bit brace. There are about 110 five-gallon buckets collecting sap. Back in the late 50s, John would tap up to 750 trees each season.

The Strangfelds collect sap almost daily and transfer it to a bulk tank. From there it’s piped into a large man-made pan to be boiled over a fire. The boiling process takes up to two days and allows the water in the sap to evaporate, leaving pure maple syrup in the pan.

Once the syrup has cooled, it can be strained through a filter to remove any sediment or other impurities. The syrup is then poured into sterile jars and refrigerated.

It takes an average of 30 to 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup, which weighs 11 pounds.

Homemade maple syrup lasts about two months in the refrigerator and can be stored in the freezer to extend its shelf life.

“It’s not a money making business, but a hobby and a great way to spend quality time with the family,” Jeff said. He firmly believes in keeping this family tradition alive.

There’s a lot of waiting time involved while the sap is processed into syrup. Family and friends enjoy their time sledding down the trail, camping overnight and all-night “syrup boiling” parties.

Recently, the Strangfeld’s began a new tradition that includes a deep-fry cookout. Everything prepared is deep-fried and then a winner of the best delicacy is chosen.

The five generations of the Strangfeld Sugar Shack include the late John Strangfeld (grandfather), Herman Strangfeld (father), Jeff Strangfeld and his children, Matt, Lee and Elizabeth (Strangfeld) Stehli, and grandchildren, Morgan and Lucas Strangfeld.

This youngster (with a little help from an adult) uses a bit brace to get a maple sap tap started on a tree at the Strangfeld Sugar Shack property.

This young lady pours maple sap into a large pan that is boiled over a wood fire at Strangfeld’s Sugar Shack maple syrup operation just outside of Neillsville.



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