11/21/2012 6:00:00 AM Syrup making a family tradition
Above, Scotty Townsend and Tim Barnett push sugarcane into the mill. At left, Townsend stirs the cane juice. After grinding the cane, the juice is heated in a tub and then filtered before the syrup is bottled. The Herrington mill is carrying on a more than 100-year-old tradition.
By STEVEN THOMAS Staff Reporter
It's syrup making time at Herrington's Mill where family members use an authentic method complete with a horse and wood-fired furnace.
The Golden's New Model mill, patented in 1906, features a friendly horse to aid in grinding the sugarcane, a 10-foot, wood-fired furnace and a partitioned copper pan used to reduce the cane juice into thick, sweet molasses.
The mill is located at 10740 Road 511 in Neshoba County.
Herrington family members fired up the mill last week with plans to produce another batch of syrup on Saturday.
The public is invited to attend and sample the fresh, pure syrup. What's more, there will be biscuits with sausage and bacon for those who come early, Robert Herrington said.
The Herrington mill operation can be traced back to the farm of Lewis and Emma Burnett, from the mid-1800s until the early 1900s.
In the 1940s, the mill was moved to the farm of Dock and Mamie Burnett where the grandparents of current owner Robert Herrington, Wesley and Janie Herrington, partnered with the Burnetts to produce syrup for themselves and many others in the community.
Mamie Burnett and Wesley Herrington fired the furnace. Dock, Janie and other available hands pitched in to complete the task.
Around 1950, the mill was moved to the Herrington's farm.
The mill and furnace sat idle and cold through part of the 1960 through the 1980s.
"I found the tumbling rocks of the furnace, the heavy iron mill and the long copper pan, the perfect stage for all sorts of childhood play," Robert Herrington said. "There were faint memories of the warmth of the fire and the smell of boiling juice. The kind of memories a four year old has that are all good. I remember begging to feed cane into the mill."
In 1989 and 90, Herrington rebuilt the furnace and restored the mill, cooking the first batch of molasses in 1990.
He continues to share the syrup making process with anyone who is interested, even inviting them to observe and/or participate.
This year in particular yielded a great crop of sugarcane.
The syrup making process itself is simple as it starts with cut sugarcane being ground using a horse drawn grinder. The cane is crushed and its juice is extracted and collected. Once enough is collected, it travels down a hose into a partitioned copper pan heated with a wood-fired furnace.
The juice is then cooked and attendants use catchers to remove any unnecessary particles from the juice.
The juice is then slowly poured onto a cloth filter where it is finally collected as thick, sweet molasses.
Watching the process is interesting, observers say.
Anyone even slightly interested in homemade items, historical manufacturing processes or even history itself will enjoy watching as the mill turns sugarcane into a delicious syrup, family members said.
For directions to the mill, call 601-678-9962 or 601-604-2669.