Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sugaring Season

From Emerald Apron's Family Farm

It's that magical time of year when the maple sap flows!

I grew up helping to tap trees, collecting sap after school and watching the sap boil. I confess that I didn't always enjoy making maple syrup. None of my friends had to walk around in the snow after school, dumping buckets of sap into a collection tank. None of my friends had to help split wood (my job was to pick up the pieces and stack them in a big bin) to keep the fire going and the sap boiling. But now I realize how lucky I was to have had this experience. I cracked up when a friend told me about her weekend trip to a Vermont sugar house, where she paid to have the same experiences I remember as work.
I now value sugaring season as a part of my heritage and even joined my family last year as they tapped trees, when I was nine months pregnant. I wasn't much help then, but I love that I'll be able to tell my son Joshua that he's made maple syrup since before he was born.

Some interesting facts about maple syrup:

  • It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.
  • Sap only runs for a few weeks each year, when the weather cooperates.
  • Sugar maple trees can be tapped year after year. Some have been tapped for hundreds of years!
  • Pure maple syrup is just boiled down sap; no additives or preservatives are needed. You can boil syrup further to make maple cream and maple candy.
  • Maple syrup is graded by color: light amber, medium amber and dark amber. The light and medium amber syrups are great on pancakes or waffles, and dark amber gives a rich maple flavor when used for baking.
  • Demand for maple syrup is on the rise among New England locavores. Every farming family I know sold out last year!
  • Maple syrup stores well. Go ahead and buy in bulk, storing closed containers at room temperature and open containers in the fridge.
  • Try substituting maple syrup for sugar or honey in your recipes, or adding a tablespoon or two for flavor.


robbie @ going green mama said...

I am so jealous - some day we will have to travel to take my kids to do this! :-)

Thanks for filling in this weekend. Now, back to work...

Farmer's Daughter said...

Glad to do it Robbie!

Josh and I are headed to the farm this morning for, you guessed it, helping make maple syrup! This post was perfect timing :)

Green Bean said...

Yum-o!!! I love maple syrup. Reason enough to give up the California sunshine for New England snows.

Daisy said...

Ah, maple syrup! So delicious. So seasonal a treat. Wisconsin is another state that loves its maple sapping season.

Laura said...

Yay! The Maple Syrup Festival is the next 2 weekends here. I'm so excited to take Liam and have him try it fresh! That and I'm out of our stash!

Lisa Sharp said...

I LOVE maple syrup. I wish I could make my own that is so awesome.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Joshua helped tap trees today! What fun we had :)

Road Trips for Families said...

Looking for a maple sugar festival? YUM! Here's a good list:

Brenda Pike said...

One of my favorite family memories is my boyfriend tripping with a full bucket of sap and dumping is into my nephew's boot. It's so much fun! Unfortunately, it's also really hard work, so my brother-in-law had to stop after he developed back problems. I miss it.


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