I'm always looking for new products at the Oak Park Farmers' Market, so I was glad to see Three Queens Maple Syrup.
Three Queens Maple Syrup is produced and sold by Oak Parkers Christine Fisher and her family.
Fisher also owns and operates the Three Queens Organic gallery (140 Harrison), which explains the aesthetically pleasing label on her maple syrup. I asked Fisher about the label, and she said, "The artists is Sandra Dawson, and we had already purchased several of her paintings. Then when we were trying to come up with a name, we looked around, realized we were surrounded by queens, and decided to call our syrup Three Queens."
For aesthetic reasons, Fisher uses glass bottles imported from Italy, rather than plastic, so that each product is "a little bottle of art."
This syrup comes in three grades: amber, dark and very dark. The amber grade syrup is from the early part of the season, and the darker stuff is from later part of the season. The maple flavor is usually a bit more forward in the dark variety, and that's what we bought. Fisher told us "Very dark is our biggest seller; we're just about sold out of the current stock."
We liked this maple syrup quite a lot. Ice cream is my preferred delivery system for maple syrup, and Fisher told me that she just received an order of three bottles for someone who plans to make maple-tini mixed drinks. She also heard that one of her customers is using the maple syrup on Brussels sprouts, which sounds odd at first but, given the bitterness of the vegetable, may actually work quite well.
The Fishers have the maple trees on their Westby, Wisconsin farm. Amish neighbors Daniel Yoder and family set up the taps for the trees that bring the sap down the hill where it can be collected. A local company called Kickapoo Gold processes the sap into syrup and bottles it; the Fishers affix their beautiful labels and take care of sales and distribution.
Three Queens contributes 15% of sales back to the arts community in the driftless area of Wisconsin, where their farm is located.
Currently, Three Queens is sold only at farmers' markets in Oak Park, Elmwood Park, Andersonville and the Loyola neighborhoods.