Good morning to everyone. Well, here we are....officially into the season called Spring and there is snow on the ground this morning. Just a dusting of snow...but STILL snow!! Father Frost certainly needs to go into hibernation!
Well today's blog is about Maple Syrup. It is the time for the Maple Syrup Festivals here in Illinois. I am not sure whether you have ever had PURE maple syrup...if you haven't you are missing one of the most wonderful things nature has to offer!
If you haven't ever had the opportunity to go to a festival...this is the time. You can walk the nature preserves and see how the trees are tapped and have buckets hanging off of the taps. The maple syrup is then gathered and cooked down and made into the pure syrup.
The making of syrup seems to come from the Native Americans of the United States and Canada. They seem to be the first creators of maple syrup, taking the liquid from maple trees and removing the excess fluids. Maple syrup is derived from sugar maple trees or from red maple trees. I hadn't realized it, but the sugar maples will produce a popular of variety syrup, while the red maple is also quite sweet.
How much sap can you get from a tree?
The average amount of sap you can extract from a tree is about 5 to 15 gallons. Now that may seem like a lot...but that is only the sap and not the syrup itself. Once the sap is cooked down...it takes 50 gallons of sap to produce 1...that's right...1 gallon of syrup. Any wonder why pure maple syrup is so expensive? That's about 4-6 trees needed to produce that gallon of syrup.
Now for years and years, it was a tradition for us to go to the Maple syrup Festival in the area. We preferred the one that is in Northbrook...but there is another in a Northern Chicago Park District as well. There we would walk the grounds with our children, parents, aunts and uncles and enjoy the process of the tapping and with an outdoor demonstration of the boiling and making of the syrup. The most enjoyable thing was sitting down outdoors in the tent to a pancake breakfast served with piping hot syrup. Oh how wonderful an experience. We would walk through the nature center and enjoy some storytelling and see the exhibits on display.
This was always an annual event that I enjoyed and looked forward to.
I have always equated maple syrup with pancakes, but as the years have gone by...I learned that I love adding it to my oatmeal. I use it as well in cooking. I love substituting it for sugar in recipes. It makes an amazing BBQ sauce and wonderful on fruits and squashes as well as in smoothies. There are desserts galore that can be made with maple syrup.
When I think back to the days when I was a kid, I remember Log Cabin Syrup and then along came Mrs. Butterworth. All good...and enjoyable....until you have the pure syrup. It doesn't get any better than that!!
Now the health benefits of maple syrup include a healthy heart and a healthier immune system. It also has antioxidant properties that protect our body from free radicals. So far, Canada is the largest producer of maple syrup followed by the United States. I consider myself so fortunate that I live in one of the 10 US states that produces this divine syrup! The largest US produces is Vermont. The largest importer is Japan.
So, check out you local area's this weekend and enjoy a stroll along the wooded areas and check out the wonder that comes from those Maple trees. It is a whole lot more than just shade.