Tuesday, February 7, 2012

North American "Honey"

Alice Tognacci
University of Gastronomic Sciences 
2010 Summer UNH Student

Today, during our field trip in Vermont, we saw a maple forest with plastic tubing system for sap collection. I’ve never seen it before, so I’ve decided to write a paper about the two mains methods of extraction that today are used to produce maple syrup.
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener well known in North America. I’ve tested it five years ago thanks to my ex Canadian roommate, who use to make me pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast.
In Italy, this “honey” is not so common and well-known, for this reason was interesting know more about its production.
This syrup is made from the sap of sugar maple trees and 40 gallons of sap make 1 gallon of syrup.
The maple sap is extracted between March and April, during the “sugaring season”, when the sap goes up to the tree thanks to hotter temperatures of the spring. There are two main ways to collect it. The traditional method consist in make holes in the trunks of the maple, insert spouts into the holes and than hung a bucket from the end of each spout to collect the sap. In this way, the sap slowly fills the buckets, drop by drop.
At this point, farmers have to gather sap, bring it to the evaporator house, where the boiling process can begin and it takes more or less 8 hours, without add any addictive.
This technology remained quite the same until 1970s, when farmers could no longer effort to collect all the buckets and haul the sap to the boiling process. During these years, syrup makers adopted the tubing system, thanks to which the sap comes directly from the tree’s trunk to the evaporator house.
Making syrup was so labor intensive and this innovation helped farmers to facilitate the sap harvest. For this reason, after years, also a vacuum pump was added to the tubing system.
Today, sap extraction using these tools is preferred by most maple syrup producers because the use of buckets system is more labor intensive and requires a larger economic effort than the newer one. Nevertheless, some little farmers continue to use this traditional method and many families use to produce maple syrup at home as it is shown in several web sites, which explain step by step how to make a good and safe maple syrup at home.
This is a strong signal that underlines the important of this “sweet nectar” in North America and some U.S states, as Sugar Momma has taught to us…

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