Native American Tribes share a maple syrup legend. The legend begins with the knowledge that maple sap used to run as syrup from the trees without processing. A god named NewawBozhoo or the Creator, started to see his people were becoming lazy as they drank the pure maple syrup from the maple trees rather then hunt or forage for food. So he cast a spell on the maple trees that made the syrup turn into a watery sap that required processing.
Maple Syrup season comes at just the right time for us on our farm. Cabin fever has set in and we start to get a teasing glimps of spring. But it is still to early to work on gardens and many of our sping projects. Tapping trees, gathering sap and then setting around our barrel stove evaprorator splitting wood and stoking the fire as well as sometimes getting the frist sun burn of the season is a balm to our antsy souls. There is just something magical about it, and it feels so good being outside.
Did You Know?
Maple Syrup is an all-natural product. Maple sap becomes maple syrup once it reaches a boiling point of 219 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the oldest agricultural enterprise in Michigan and we rank 7th in production. Though only about 1% of our available trees are tapped each year.
It is one of the few crops that the demand exceeds the supply. Though Canada has a maple syrup cartel that controls much of the supply and price setting for commecial maple syrup.
It takes on average 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup. Sugar Maples are not the only trees that can be tapped for sap. You can also tap other maples as well as birch trees. Squirls and other animals also enjoy the sap.
Maple Syrup Season
In Michigan the maple syrup begins to run down state in February and ends in April in the Upper Peninsula. Which makes it the first crop each year and is a great way to break up a little winter cabin fever. Within the season there is a window of 10-20 days of heavy sap flow. The rest is a nice continuous drip. The freezing and thawing temperatures creates pressure and forces the sap out of the tree. Once the trees begin to bud the maple syrup begins to taste bitter and ends the season.
Grading Maple Syrup
Grade A Light Amber: is a light amber color, with a light and mild maple flavor.
Grade A Medium Amber: is a medium amber color, with a bit more maple flavor. It is the most popular grade for table use.
Grade A Dark Amber: is a dark amber color, with a strong maple flavor.
Grade B: is dark in color, and is generally used for cooking and baking.
The grades change as the season progresses. So which do you think will be your favorite?
Maple syrup is 100 percent natural and unrefined, retaining the inherent nutritional value of the sap obtained from the maple tree. It is also easy for our body to recognize and utilize.