Michigan Sugar Bush-Small Scale Harvest

There are deep traditions in Michigan. One of them is harvesting sap to make fresh Maple syrup. Continuing the tradition and getting outside on a winters day, in anticipation for spring, is one of my favorite things to do.

One of my finest memories of winters days gone by is when, as a child, my Mother would point out sap sickles dangling off the Maple tree limbs that had been accidentally broken from a passing snow plow creating a wound for the sap to flow.

Tasting those yummy sickles still brings remembrances to warm my heart on a cold day.

IMG_20160215_144458893Maple syrup is a healthier alternative to refined sugar. It contains high levels of zinc and manganese, keeping the heart healthy and boosting our immune system. It also boast 54 different antioxidants. You can read more about the healthy benefits here.

We enjoy it on the table as well as in many recipes. It is simple to make maple syrup in your own backyard or wood lot. The temperature must drop below freezing at night and rise above freezing during the day for the sap to run. Trees should have at least a twelve inch diameter before being tapped. Timing of the sugarbush is crucial and usually starts in February, depending on your climate. Once the trees begin to bud, the season is over, as the sap becomes too bitter to make syrup with.

If you have as few as three sugar maple trees, you can make your own maple syrup. The basic method has not changed from the time of the early French settlers.

  • You boil off the water in the sap to get the sweet syrup.
  • It takes 40-45 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup.
  • No fancy equipment is needed, and you can boil down the sap in roaster ovens or on your own stove top.
  • Run it through a filter and bottle.

Drinking the fresh sap or maple water, unprocessed and unboiled straight from the tree is also a healthy spring tonic.

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Drinking fresh Maple Water

So get out there, and help continue the Michigan Sugarbush tradition, teaching others to harvest and eat from the wild. Ensuring a healthy future for our country, and building lasting warm memories for a future cold winters day.

Proclaimed Health Benefits of Maple water: 100% pure maple water contains over 46 bioactive nutrients, including phytonutrients unique to tree waters. These nutrients, including 25+ phytonutrients, 9 minerals, 11 amino & organic acids,  help boost immune health, aid in the prevention of degenerative diseases and act as a probiotic to support digestive health.

Maple Brussel Sprouts

Baking Tip: You can substitute maple syrup for sugar in most recipes.  Use ¾ cup of maple syrup for each cup of sugar. Decrease recipe liquid by 2-4 tablespoons for each cup of syrup used. Add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Decrease oven temperature by 25 degrees.

 

 

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