As I mentioned on Facebook, I am now obsessed with my new discovery from this weekend — Maple Cream!
This month is Maple Month here in New Hampshire, which is just perfect for us since honey and syrup are our main sweeteners these days. So on Saturday we took a little family field trip to Meader’s Heritage Farm in Rochester, NH to learn about how they make the syrup. As it turned out, my 1st grader and kindergartners knew a lot more about the process than I did!
When we pulled into the farm I instantly felt like we had stepped into a Christmas card, complete with snow falling! — Yes, snow on March 22nd! Ugh! This adorable farm has stone walls, two big friendly work horses leaning their heads over the fence for the kids to pet and a picture perfect sleigh parked against the barn.
Just beyond the corral was the sugar shack, a cute little log cabin with warm steam rising out of the vented roof and beckoning us to come in.
Once inside it was toasty warm and I immediately got covered in coats and hats as the kids threw them off. It was obvious something special was brewing in here!
The maple sap had been collected in the 250 gallon container outside -which took 8 hours to fill from 300 taps on trees!
Once collected, it’s run through a series of evaporating baths to boil it down to syrup.
After all of that, the syrup slowly drip, drip, drips into a bucket. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!
I didn’t know any of this, but apparently my kids did! One thing that surprised us all was that we were allowed to sample some of the pure sap from the trees…and it was completely clear like water! It tasted like a slightly sweetened water, but very slightly sweet. It’s amazing that this becomes the dark, thick syrup we love!
And speaking of that dark, sweet, syrup, I was really interested to learn that I had no idea of what to look for when buying syrup. Up until now I was always careful to purchase 100% pure maple syrup (not “table syrup” or any other name which is mostly just processed sugary corn syrup), and I sometimes noticed descriptors like “Vermont Fancy” or “Grade A”. When given a choice, I always chose the “Grade A Light”. It turns out that Grade B is actually the best syrup – “B” for best. It’s a more concentrated, darker syrup that is made by cooking it at a low temperature for a much longer time than the “Fancy Light” or “Grade A Light, Medium, or Dark” which is cooked fast and hot. This means that when using “Grade B” syrup, because the flavor is so concentrated, you can use less. And we all know pure maple syrup ain’t cheap! After seeing all that goes into making the syrup, I think it’s worth every penny!