Logans live a sweet tradition

By Staff
SLOW PROCESS Milton Logan, left, holds the tap open to a pan where cane syrup is cooking down as his uncle, Johnny Logan, fills pint jars with finished syrup. Photo by Carisa McCain / The Meridian Star.
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Nov. 24, 2002
The cane syrup made at the Logans' house in Shubuta is best for "soppin'."
Soppin' is when you soak up the sweet, thick, sticky syrup still warm from being cooked that morning with a fresh, hot biscuit. Then you put it in your mouth and let it just sort of melt.
Samantha Sims of Eucutta discovered the syrup made by the Logans two years ago.
After she ate sausage, red beans and rice, biscuits and syrup at the Logans, she bought a couple of half-gallon containers of their popular syrup and stayed a while longer to visit.
Soppin' syrup with biscuits is one of the fringe benefits of visiting the home of Milton and Tena Logan on any given Saturday in November.
You can also watch sugar cane being transformed into syrup, drink cane juice, sample fried squirrel and rice, or sweet potatoes cooked in the kitchen house made from the wood of an old barn.
About 15 people were at the Logan house late Saturday morning, all of them chatting, laughing, eating and working.
In the beginning
Syrup making at the Logans' house began nine years ago. It was Bud's idea.
The late Bud Logan passed away six years ago but his son, Milton, and Milton's brother-in-law, Eddie Manasca of Saraland, Ala., have kept the tradition going.
Bill McBride of Meridian was in on that first syrup-making November at the Logan home when he was a postmaster in Jasper County. Bud's wife, Sue, who passed away two years ago, was a rural route postal carrier.
The kitchen house was built a few years ago near the syrup mill on the Logan property. Its atmosphere invites people to visit and eat.
It is like a museum with some of Bud's old straw hats and coveralls hanging on the wall along with more curious items like sausage grinders, mule collars and harnesses, and an old cross-cut saw.
Milton Logan didn't have much to say Saturday. The smile on his face spoke for him. Asked if he would be making syrup again next year, his smile grew wider.
Then he started up his old, red, Super A model International Harvester tractor so everyone could get back to work.
Raising cane
Making cane syrup starts with growing sugar cane. It has to be stripped and fed into a grinder.
A spindle in back of Logan's tractor turns a belt that is hooked up to a grinder that crushes the sugar cane with a large wheel, like a cog, squeezing out all of its sweetness. Long ago, grinders were turned by mule power.
The cane juice is strained into a large, steel pan. Logan's is 11 feet long, 42 inches wide and 6 inches deep. There it is boiled. Impurities that float to the top in a white, foamy, film are skimmed off. Steam rises from the pan constantly.
When the water cooks out of the juice the remainder is cooked down more, until it is a light, brownish red. Then it is syrup, ready for jars or cans, or jugs after it is strained one last time.
He said November is cane syrup season in Mississippi because the cool nights of October make the sugar cane sweet.