By Keri LanghorstFeatured in Make It Minnesota's Spring 2015 issue.
Harvesting sap from trees on a crisp spring day after being indoors all winter is one of the many perks Jerry Jacobson and D. Mae Ceryes enjoy about their business, Jake’s Syrups and Natural Products LLC. “It’s too early to garden and too late for winter activities, so collecting sap is an enjoyable way to be productive outside,” D. Mae comments, “We enjoy listening to the geese flying so low you can hear the wind in their wings and the drip drip of the sap into the empty buckets. It’s like listening to the trees’ heartbeats,”
Growing up, Jerry’s parents would supply their family and friends with maple syrup. As an adult, Jerry was inspired to continue the tradition and started to produce his own maple syrup in his spare time. His friends suggested he should sell his product. So, in 1993 they became a licensed commercial facility and started their business the following spring with 485 taps. Since then, their business has grown in quantity and diversity of its products.
Even with the growth of their business, Jerry and D. Mae maintain the operation as a family hobby. They manage about 2000 taps and receive aid from equipment specially made for tapping trees. After the sap is collected it is simply boiled down to remove the water content and create pure maple syrup, no additives needed. “Sap looks, pours, and tastes like water with a hint of sweetness,” D. Mae explained, “and it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!” They also sell chokecherry and wild plum syrups.
Other popular products their business supplies are jellies and jams. These products are also made naturally, with no additives such as artificial flavor or high fructose corn syrup. Most of the fruits are raised on their farm. They raise crabapples, black wine berries, chokecherries, gooseberries, highbush cranberries, raspberries, rhubarb, wild plums, and strawberries! This impressive variety of fruits and berries makes delicious jellies and jams perfect for desserts, on bread, and more.
Their business also produces picture frames, wood trivets, and coaster sets from the hollow and deadfall trees at their farm. Since they use wood to fire the sap evaporator, they wondered what to do with the hollow trees they came upon. “We always thought [hollow trees] were uniquely beautiful and wondered what we could do with them,” D. Mae commented. They began by experimenting with picture frames. After some trial and error they perfected the task, and have expanded to unique trivets and coaster sets as well.
Jerry and D. Mae enjoy sharing their passion of maple syrup with their customers. They encourage tours of their farm and educate people on the process of making maple syrup. They also participate in craft shows and share the process through pictures. They have been a member of the Minnesota Maple Syrup Producers Association for 20 years, and have won ribbons in both state fair and international syrup contests. This family hobby has become a productive business that brings high quality foods to many.