Michigan (PRWEB) March 15, 2013
The Michigan Maple Syrup Association will hold the first of three Michigan Maple Syrup Weekends beginning March 16-17. Three separate weekends will accommodate the distinct areas of the state and the weather that affects them: the area south of US 10 will be held the weekend of March 16-17, north of US 10 will be March 23-24, and the Upper Peninsula will be the weekend of March 30-31.
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 maple festivities.
“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."
Last year, Michigan syrup production was down about 50% due to warm weather, however this year, Mother Nature seems to be cooperating.
"Last year, we started in mid-February, which is really early," said Larry Haigh, president of the Michigan Maple Syrup Association and owner of Haigh's Maple Syrup and Supplies in Bellevue, Michigan. Haigh's Maple Syrup farm is one of many producers that will participate in the festivities.
"You kind of depend on mother nature to take what we can get," Haigh said. "So, when we get these warms days, we'll get some good runs, and then at night, the snow and the cool ground will help cool it faster, so we're kind of hoping we'll get a more traditional season."
Michigan rank 7th nationally in maple syrup production and Governor Snyder has declared March Michigan Maple Syrup Month. However, according to Haigh, the state has a lot of untapped potential.
"Michigan actually has twice as many trees as Vermont," Haigh said. "We're tapping like .02 percent of the trees that could be tapped that are maple."
A brochure with participating sugarhouses will be available at the Chamber of Commerce, local welcome centers and other public places.
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 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.
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.