Harbor Springs, Michigan (PRWEB) March 14, 2013
The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians is partnering with Getting Kids Outdoors Emmet County to hold a maple syrup workshop on Sunday, March 17 from 1-3 p.m.
In their effort to support and promote sustainable agriculture, local, small and family owned farms and other local food sources, The Mohawk Valley Trading Company encourages families and people of all ages to attend and participate in this fun and educational outdoor event.
“Maple syrup festivities are fun, historical and educational outdoor events that are always a good time for families and people of all ages,” said Mary Ross of the Mohawk Valley Trading Company where their maple syrup is made primarily from sugar maple sap.
Sugar maple sap is preferred for maple syrup production because it has an average sugar content of two percent. Sap from other maple species is usually lower in sugar content, and about twice as much is needed to produce the same amount of finished syrup.
“Maple syrup and sugar have played an important role in our nation’s history.” Ross continued, “After the passage of the 1764 Sugar Act, which imposed high tariffs on imported sugar, maple sugar became even more popular. Before he became president, Thomas Jefferson liked the idea that maple sugar could be produced by citizens of the new nation and sever it’s dependence on sugar grown on plantations in the British Caribbean. And at the end of a visit to Vermont, in a speech he gave in Bennington, Jefferson said, "Attention to our sugar orchards is essentially necessary to secure the independence of our country."
Doug Craven a tribal member will head the casual tour and discuss why the month of the sugar moon was so important to the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa’s culture and the difference between traditional native maple sugaring and modern methods.
About Maple Syrup
Next to honey, maple syrup is the most popular natural sweetener in North America and its production predates European colonization. Early Native American societies in Canada and the northeastern United States were distilling maple tree sap making maple syrup and sugar before those geographic boundaries existed. Maple sugar is made from the controlled crystallization of maple syrup and takes several forms.There is no written record of the first syrup production but several native legends persist. Many tribes celebrated the short maple sap collection season with specific rituals.
The Native Americans collected maple sap from v-shaped notches carved into maple trees. The sap was diverted into birch bark buckets using bark or reeds. It was concentrated by placing hot stones into the buckets or by freezing the sap and removing the ice, which is composed only of water.
When Europeans reached northeastern America they adapted native techniques to make their own maple syrup. The v-shaped notches were replaced with auger-drilled holes. This practice is less damaging to the trees. Bark buckets were replaced with seamless wooden buckets carved from lumber rounds. The method of sap concentration also changed from passive to active. Large amounts of sap were collected and brought to a single area where it was boiled over fires in round cauldrons until reduced to the desired consistency. ‘Sugar shacks’ were built expressly for the purpose of sap boiling. Draft animals were often used to haul fire wood and large containers of sap for sugaring. Maple syrup was an important food additive in early America because imported cane sugar was not yet available.
In the mid-1800’s syrup production changed again. Round cauldrons were replaced by flat pans in order to increase surface area and therefore allow for faster evaporation. Over the next 60 year several variations on this design were patented. Draft animals were replaced by tractors and heating methods expanded to include propane, oil and natural gas as well as wood.
The 1970’s represent another period of major changes in maple syrup production. Plastic tubing running directly from trees to the sugaring location eliminated the need for energy and time intensive sap collection. Reverse osmosis and pre-heating made syrup production more efficient. Recent advances have been made in sugarbush (maple trees used primarily for syrup production) management, filtration and storage.
There are two well known systems maple syrup grading in use today. One system is used in Canada (where 80% of the world’s maple syrup is produced) and another system is used in the United States of America. Both systems are based on color and translucence with relate to the flavor of the syrup. Different grades are produced by the same trees over the length of the season.
French toast, waffles, pancakes or oatmeal are regularly served with maple syrup and it is used as a sweetener or flavoring ingredient in baked goods and ice cream. Since maple syrup recipes usually do not specify any particular grade to use, take into consideration that darker colored syrups will produce dishes that a have a pronounced maple flavor.
The Mohawk Valley Trading Company offers the highest quality unprocessed natural products they can produce namely; maple syrup, raw honey, beeswax candles, natural skin care products and handmade soap. In addition, they offer natural stone, tea and spices from around the world such, Demerara sugar, Madagascar vanilla beans, Vietnamese cinnamon, vanilla beans, ground vanilla beans, vanilla extract, allspice, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and mace.
Hours of operations are 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST, seven days a week. Reach them at (315)-519-2640 to learn more.