Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A Sap for Syrup

Tapping a Maple Tree
The sap is drip-drip-dripping from the maple trees.

Yup, the daytime temperatures are above freezing, and the nighttime temperatures are below freezing......time for maples to weep their sappy tears.  How cool is it that we saw our first maple drip of the season.....and spotted our first robin.......yesterday!

There's nothing sweeter (in more ways than one) than pure maple syrup.  Besides making killer pancakes and French Toast, it makes a yummy topping for oatmeal and broiled grapefruit.  We use it in our baked beans, sweet potatoes, and squash recipes instead of brown sugar.

Maple syrup is the essence of Nature and makes a healthy alternative to white sugar.  It's 100% pure and natural and contains more calcium than milk, more potassium than bananas, and is fat free.
  • When a maple tree is 30 years old and 12 inches in diameter, it can be tapped.
  •  As the tree grows and increases in diameter, more taps can be added, up to four taps at most.
  • The tapping doesn't permanently damage the tree.
  • It takes 30 to 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of pure maple syrup.  No wonder it's pricey....but worth every drippy sticky drop.
  • The sap flows the heaviest for 10-20 days in early spring, and this "run" lasts up to 8-10 weeks.
  • Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S.
  • It takes four maple trees, at least 40 years old, to produce enough sap over a period of six weeks to make one gallon of maple syrup.
  • Imitation maple syrups are mostly corn syrup, and they usually contain only two to three percent real maple syrup. 
Sugar on Snow is a traditional Vermont dish where freshly boiled syrup is poured on late winter snow, making a taffy-like consistency.  Supposedly, then the Vermontians eat it with a sour pickle to balance the sweet maple flavor.

Here's an idea:  for those people who are difficult to buy gifts for..... how about making a pancake gift basket.  Who wouldn't love that.

Well, I've done it again.  Every time I think, write, or talk about food, I get myself half crazy with hunger.  I'd give anything in the whole wide world right at this very second for a platter of my Mom's homemade (from scratch) pancakes.  I can still see her carrying the platter piled with 'em to our kitchen table.  I'd stack one pancake on top of the other and then pour oozy-goozy syrup on top till they turned into an island.

Why do I do this to myself!