If you’re looking for great maple syrup, Bob Jakeman is your man. His family has been in the business for five generations and they haven’t missed a production year since 1876! We had a chance to speak with Bob about his delicious maple syrup.
Specialty Ontario: How long have you been in business? Describe some of the unique history behind Jakeman’s?
Bob Jakeman: Maple syrup making is a lifelong family tradition that spans 5 generations. We are now in our 136th year of maple sugaring. My family started making maple syrup in 1876, when they first came to Canada from Oxfordshire England. We are tapping some of the same trees that were used in their first tapping when they arrived. The sap from a single maple tree can be harvested for 75 to 150 years.
SO: What goals have you set out for yourself and your business?
BJ: We would like the next generation to carry on the family tradition. I have 2 sons, Devin and Chad that have joined the firm to carry on. We have twice been named the best tasting maple syrup in blind taste tests by the National Post. It is a great feeling to be judged the best amongst our peers in an off the shelf test. It definitely means that we are doing things right!
Simply put, we aim to remain the best. Our reputation is reaching far off places, as we are now the exclusive supplier to Disney World amongst others.
SO: Tell us a little about your maple icewine syrup, what makes it unique?
BJ: The maple icewine syrup was born from a suggestion of a friend of mine who was musing about the similarities of harvest temperatures and sweetness of the end product. I began experimenting with different infusions of icewine from Vidal grapes until I succeeded in producing a syrup that had the taste that I was looking for. We then invited family and friends to sample the end product. When we heard all of the positive comments, we knew we had a winner!
The original syrup was born from fire & ice and we wanted to name it something along that line but we soon found that since it was a syrup, consumers related to Maple Icewine Syrup much more easily than other names that came to mind.
Since its inception, it has been featured in Chatelaine, Gift – and – Tableware’s, Giftware News, and was one of the top 5 new Sweet products for 2011 at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco etc.
SO: What advantages will consumers experience as a result of your products being Ontario based?
BJ: Our advantage is our taste, traceability and consistency. We are one of the few Federally Registered packers in Ontario and receive regular inspections.
SO: What products are you currently producing and do you have any plans to expand the variety of goods you produce?
BJ: We produce maple sugar candy & granules, maple spread, & maple icewine syrup in house. We have a number of other products like our maple cream cookies made with non-hydrogenated oils, no saturated fats or food colours. Other products like maple tea, & coffee, maple leaf candy 70% pure maple, taffy, hard candy etc. are produced by co packers. New products, we are planning to add maple popcorn & possibly another flavoured maple syrup. The one rule we follow is that if it doesn’t taste good, we will not do it!
SO: Are there any accomplishments either privately or publicly that yourself/your company has achieved that you are particularly proud of?
BJ: We have never missed a production year in 136 years. Throughout our history, we have never compromised on our taste or quality.
SO: Talk about the impact that the production of Maple syrup has on the environment. Do you do anything unique in the manufacturing process?
BJ: Most of our maple syrup is produced over a wood fire accompanied by reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis has allowed us to eliminate 75% of the water prior to boiling saving us piles of fire wood. The boiling of the syrup gives it the taste and colour.
The introduction of the health spile has benefited, ourselves as well as many Ontario producers, and is probably used by more than 50% of Ontario producers today. The health spile requires a smaller diameter tapping hole in the tree, and the hole will heal over in just one year. This allows the tap hole to heal with very little scaring and staining of the tree sap wood and yet does not affect sap yield.
SO: Where is your product sold and how can people contact you?
BJ: Our farm is just off the 401 at Woodstock Interchange 230 south 6 K and watch for our signs. Our website is www.themaplestore.com or in Toronto at the St Lawrence Market (lower level), Pusateri’s, Bruno’s, Eaton Center at Toys Toys & Hallmark, and most major airports across Canada. We ship worldwide.
For more information, you can visit Jakeman’s online here.