Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sweets from Trees: Naturally Harvested Organic Maple Syrup

In the Northwest, mouthwatering berries {and sunshine!} haven't yet emerged to cheer our plates and hearts, and February's glut of Valentine's chocolate is kindly in the past...but take heart ~ now's just the time for sweetness that comes from humble trees.

"The season of sugar-making came when the first crow appeared. This happened about the beginning or middle of March, while there was yet snow on the ground. This period of the season was looked forward to with great interest, and, as among the Minnesota Ojibwa today, became a holiday for everybody. Each female head of a household had her own sugar hut, built in a locality abounding in maple trees which might or might not have been convenient to her camp, but which was the place always resorted to by her, and claimed by right of decent through her mother's family and totem."
~ A European American's observation from 1896
As referenced in Jessica Prentice's delightful book, Full Moon Feast.
See her Sap Moon chapter for 13 traditional, unrefined sources of sweetness.


I took a vicarious field trip last weekend, when a good friend living in Boston told me over the phone about her adventures "sugaring" in Vermont. She recently drove north for a regional festival where small farms, producing anywhere from handfuls to hundreds of gallons, displayed their wares and offered delicious samples of maply-goodness.

Her stories reminded me that those small scale production operations can be a true labor of love.

The trees are tapped

They bleed their sap

And a diligent farmer must tend a boiling vat,
until the water evaporates to leave a golden syrup

For any of you in the Portland area interested in cooking with this high quality sweetener, Chris at Lost Arts Kitchen has made arrangements for sourcing "Certified organic maple syrup from Michigan and Wisconsin. Amish made, using horse power for collection and wood fire for the evaporation process."

The syrup will be available for pickup in NE Portland in early April; orders & payment due by the end of the month.

In the meantime, you may also enjoy this post that speaks to seasonal eating and sweetener choices: A Celebration Every Day: Sap Moon

Hope to see you at April's Food Group, where we'll be chatting about bulk buying (like...stocking up on syrup when it's in season?) and exchanging kitchen stories from the past month...


No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...