Spring is on the way!
New Hampshire folk celebrate March Madness in our own way! Maple trees are being tapped for the sap that is turned into that marvelous brown liquid found in many containers including maple leaf shaped jars throughout the state. Maple syrup, maple butter, maple sugar and maple lollipops are some of my family’s favorites.
So, how long have we been making making syrup? Much evidence exists that our favorite maple syrup was being made long before the Europeans arrived here. The first traditions were to boil the sap down to a sugar form, that had a good shelf life.
Maple Sugar Grades
In today’s world maple syrup is categorized in different grades. Grape A has three subgrades; Light Amber, Medium Amber, Dark Amber, all based on the color, or translucence, of the syrup. Grade B is a much darker color and is typically used for cooking. The system Canada uses is different as it considers density, flavor, clarity. Grade A, also known as ‘Fancy’ syrup is from the earlier part of the season while Grade B is from the end of the season. New York, Vermont and different areas in Canada have higher standards that must be followed when labelling the maple syrup product. All products labelled “maple syrup” must be made from the sap of the maple trees. Pancake syrups are made from other sugars and are not maple syrup. Although maple syrup contains minerals and is a natural product it is still made up mostly of sugar and is not recommended in high doses for diabetics and those folks on restricted diets.
Maple Sugar Events
Watch for local restaurants and sugar shacks offer special events at this time of the year centered around the maple sugar season. Offerings may include special breakfast events where pancakes and waffles are serviced with real maple syrup. Sugar shacks have times for folks to watch the process of the boiling of the sap with special treats available for purchase for later enjoyment.