The beautiful sugar snow we had last week has really helped with the sap flow since the nights are right below freezing and the days are up in the 50’s. The other night we read a chapter out of “Little House in the Big Woods” about how Pa went to Grandpa’s to make maple syrup and sugar. Another good book to read about making maple syrup is
“Maple Sugar for Wendy Foot” by Frances Frost. It is an older book but a great read aloud for the whole family to enjoy.
There is a lot of hard work involved in making maple syrup, but the product of beautiful amber color sweetness to pour over hot pancakes is a great reward. The “tapping” of the trees, collecting the sap, boiling down the sap into syrup which can be a long process in itself. But the good news is, you don’t have to live way out in the boondocks or even have a farm to make your own maple syrup! If you have a few sugar maples in your yard, you can tap those trees, collect that sap and cook down your syrup in your own kitchen! We have friends who live in downtown Birmingham who are making their own maple syrup right there in the city! Here is a good book list for you to gather information from:
Making Maple Syrup, By Noel Perrin ( A Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin)
Backyard Sugarin’ By Rink Mann ISBN 0-914378-20-1
The Maple Sugar Book By Helen and Scott Nearing ISBN 0-8052-3400-4
And remember there is a world of information out there on the internet!
Here are a few facts about making maple syrup:
When the temperatures get below freezing at night (32 degrees) and stay above freezing in the day, that is when the sap is running up the trees from the roots to the very tip top branches to get the tree ready to begin budding. It is at this time that you want to tap your trees. For the state of Tennessee, this usually happens at the end of January or the beginning of February.
The older the tree, the more sap it is able to produce. The Maple tree can live to be a hundred years old, some have even lived to be up to 300 years old.
The American Indians were the first recipients of maple tree sweet sap; they then shared it with the early American settlers.
Once a tree is big enough to tap (at least 10 inches in diameter) it can be tapped year after year.
Sugar Maples do not reach tappable size till forty or fifty years after planting.
Maple trees that have been tapped produce larger quantities of sugar water and contain more nutritive materiel than trees that have not been tapped. Tapping does not hurt the tree at all.
1 gallon of maple syrup weighs 11 pounds.
We use maple syrup for all kinds of things. Many times we substitute regular sugar for maple syrup. It is our main source of sweetener that we use, so it is very important for us to make at least 8 gallons of syrup for the year.
In between boiling down sap we have been making sour dough starter using freshly ground rye flour, brewing Kombucha tea (both recipes we got from Sally Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions”) organizing our sewing room, quilting and playing in the snow!
Here is one of our favorite recipes using maple syrup:
8 cups popped popcorn
1 cup pecans, toasted
½ cup butter
1 ½ cups brown sugar or raw sugar
½ cup maple syrup
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
Grease a large bowl with butter or oil. Add popcorn and pecans to bowl and toss together. Line a large baking sheet with foil grease with butter or oil, set aside. Combine butter, sugar, and syrup in a heavy bottom saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, then cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer (we just let it get real hot and bubbly for approximately 3 to 5 minutes). Remove immediately from heat and stir in salt and baking soda (mixture will foam). Quickly pour caramel over popcorn mixture and with an oiled spoon, stir until thoroughly coated. Turn mixture out onto baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Allow to cool slightly, then break into bite-sized pieces. Enjoy!
Well, I better be getting off this computer trap and get busy with the days living! Ya’ll should do the same! J
Proud to be Southern Sap Suckers,
Cecilia for the West Family