Utica, NY — The growing demand for maple syrup continues as more health conscious consumers look for natural sweeteners as an alternative to refined sugar, according to the Mohawk Valley Trading Company.
In response to this, the Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, St. Lawrence Maple Producers, and Gouverneur FFA will be hosting a class on Saturday, January 26th at Gouverneur High School for those who are interested in learning how to make maple syrup as a hobby or a business.
Representatives from the Mohawk Valley Trading Company plan to attend. “Maple sugaring season will be here soon and we are looking forward to this event and others like it,” said Mary Ross of the Mohawk Valley Trading Company where their maple syrup is made primarily from sugar maple sap.
The daylong class that begins at 8:30 a.m. will include lunch and is $15 for adults, $5 for children. There will be workshops for adults, children and families that are designed for both the novice and professional producers. Discussions will cover maple royalty, pricing and marketing maple products, GPS woodlot management, backyard beginner sugar making, value-added maple products. Please call 315-379-9192 for more information.
Richard Gast, Cornell Cooperative Extension Franklin County Horticulture and Natural Resources Educator said “The Northern New York maple schools represent an exceptional opportunity to learn, or learn more, about maple production from trees to table and about the sustainable forestry practices that make maple production possible.”
About Maple Syrup
The production of maple syrup in North America predates European colonization. Early Native American societies in Canada and the northeastern United States were distilling maple syrup and sugar before those geographic boundaries existed. There is no written record of the first syrup production but several native legends persist. Many tribes celebrated the short maple sap collection season with specific rituals.
The Native Americans collected maple sap from v-shaped notches carved into maple trees. The sap was diverted into birch bark buckets using bark or reeds. It was concentrated by placing hot stones into the buckets or by freezing the sap and removing the ice, which is composed only of water.
Sugar maple sap is preferred for maple syrup production because it has an average sugar content of two percent. Sap from other maple species is usually lower in sugar content, and about twice as much is needed to produce the same amount of finished syrup.
When Europeans reached northeastern America they adapted native techniques to make their own maple syrup. The v-shaped notches were replaced with auger-drilled holes. This practice is less damaging to the trees. Bark buckets were replaced with seamless wooden buckets carved from lumber rounds. The method of sap concentration also changed from passive to active. Large amounts of sap were collected and brought to a single area where it was boiled over fires in round cauldrons until reduced to the desired consistency. ‘Sugar shacks’ were built expressly for the purpose of sap boiling. Draft animals were often used to haul fire wood and large containers of sap for sugaring. Maple syrup was an important food additive in early America because imported cane sugar was not yet available.
In the mid-1800’s syrup production changed again. Round cauldrons were replaced by flat pans in order to increase surface area and therefore allow for faster evaporation. Over the next 60 year several variations on this design were patented. Draft animals were replaced by tractors and heating methods expanded to include propane, oil and natural gas as well as wood.
The 1970’s represent another period of major changes in maple syrup production. Plastic tubing running directly from trees to the sugaring location eliminated the need for energy and time intensive sap collection. Reverse osmosis and pre-heating made syrup production more efficient. Recent advances have been made in sugarbush (maple trees used primarily for syrup production) management, filtration and storage.
There are two well known systems of maple syrup grading in use today. One system is used in Canada (where 80% of the world’s maple syrup is produced) and another system is used in the United States of America. Both systems are based on color and translucence with relate to the flavor of the syrup. Different grades are produced by the same trees over the length of the season.
Since maple syrup recipes usually do not specify any particular grade to use, take into consideration that darker colored syrups will produce dishes that a have a pronounced maple flavor.
The Mohawk Valley Trading Company hours of operations are 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST, seven days a week. Reach them at (315)-519-2640 to learn more.
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