record breaking temperatures of February and March were delightful for
many, but a challenge for those living off the land such as maple syrup crafters. A surge in temperature
following a below-freezing night creates pressurized sap lines, which
then expand, pushing the sap to flow up the tree toward the branches-
the sap is the energy that fuels the trees new growth. A tap is placed into the tree to “capture” some of the sugary sap which is then
refined into deliciously sweet maple syrup. With very few cold days and
nights occurring during this year’s prime of sapping time, many maple
tree taps were churning out a very slow and sparse sap flow.
Steve Anderson of Anderson's Syrup, explained to me how the spike in temperature really cut their sap collection yield to ⅓ of their normal collection. Anderson’s Syrup has approximately 4,000 trees in their sugar bush and have recently begun using a vacuum-pump tubing system. The vacuum system allows for greater, more efficient collection without harming the trees. The addition of the tubing system has positively spiked production outcomes. This year was the exception as the early spring left the Andersons, and many other local producers, pretty light-handed.
“We ended up making almost 35% of a crop, producing 42,000 gallons of sap, compared to 120,000 in 2011. That sap made up about 770 gallons of syrup this year and 2,200 gallons in 2011,” explained Steve Anderson.
I recall the first time I had a taste of pure maple syrup while on an east coast road trip. The thought that one could tap a hole into a tree and collect tree sap which is then simply cooked off into a condensed sugar was mind blowing- what a wonderfully delicious treat! Since then I have favored pure maple syrup as both a pancake topper and as an ingredient. One of my favorite ways to use maple syrup is in homemade granola and Anderson’s Syrup is always in my pantry.
Anderson’s Syrup does have some reserve-supply from last year, so they do believe that they will be able to meet area demand, but the same is not true for some of the smaller producers selling at the farmer’s markets or out of their homes. Mother nature gives us many delectable treats, but also gives us some great challenges along the way- such is the yin and yang of life.
The Everyday Breakfast Granola Bar
Oats (11 oz.)
Nuts (6 oz.) *I use 2 oz. each of walnuts, almonds, and cashews.
Sesame Seeds (1 oz.)
Sunflower Seeds (1 oz.)
Flax Seeds (1 oz.)
Butter (2 Tab.)
Honey (6 oz.)
Maple Syrup (3 oz.)
Chili powder, nutmeg, cinnamon (dash of each)
Salt (1/2 Tsp.)
Raisin or other dried fruit such as black currant or cherries (2 oz.)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place on a cookie sheet and toast nuts (15 minutes), oats (15 mins.), and seeds (10 mins.). Skip this step if ingredients were purchased as “cooked” or “roasted.”
2. Bring oven temperature down to 300 degrees
3. Melt butter in saucepan. Add honey and maple syrup and gently whisk. Sprinkle in a dash of chili powder (optional), nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add ½ tsp. salt.
4. Mix in dried fruit.
5. Bring in remaining oats, nuts, and seeds.
6. Butter the bottom of a baking pan (7.5 X 11 in.) and lightly pack mixture into the pan.
7. Bake for 20 mins.
8. While cooling (after 20 minutes), cut into 16 pieces. Serve after 1 hr.
Leigh Ann Ahmad was dragged kicking and screaming to the Cities by her husband; having been born and bred in Cleveland, Ohio, she just could not fathom how colder could be better. Now, five years and two kids later, she cannot imagine a better place to play and thrive. She’s a reformed carb-aholic, wannabe writer, social justice advocate, book-club geek, veggie grower and local foods connoisseur. Her last article for SGT was, The Spice Odyssey.