March Maple Madness
This year marked the 6th Annual Michigan Maple Weekend (March 24th-25th in NE Michigan), although the weather didn’t want to cooperate. There’s a pattern of freezing and thawing once spring hits, which builds up pressure within the trees and causes sap to flow. It was bitterly cold as I walked around 4D Acre Maple to check out their set up.
Nathan Delke, co-owner, mentioned that despite having sap to boil, it was just too cold to even get sap through the lines to the boiler for the event. Once the sap is collected via buckets or line systems, some of the water is evaporated in a boiler creating what’s called a “candy-cloud,” to produce a nutritious, thick syrup. Any maple syrup producer will tell you that the syrup doesn’t get its just due regarding health benefits. In fact, pure maple syrup contains more than 24 different antioxidants, including inflammation-reducing polyphenols. According to the International Maple Syrup Institute, maple syrup is chocked full of nutrients like zinc, calcium, and manganese; studies have shown that if you replace sweeteners in your kitchen with pure maple syrup, it can be considered part of a healthy diet in preventing certain diseases like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.
I also had the pleasure of talking with Sally Delke, the other owner of 4D Acre. She mentioned that since they’ve transitioned to a gas-powered evaporator, the process has become much quicker. Sugaring season generally lasts 4–6 weeks, and it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. But unless the weather decides to play nice, looks like the season will be extending just a bit longer. You can load up on maple syrup and products from our NE partners; check ‘em out here and make a day of it: Awesome Woods Maple Syrup, Bonz Beach Farms, Britt Family Pure Maple Syrup, Delaney and Sons’ Wood Fired Maple Syrup, Ed’s Maple Syrup, Maple Dale Farm, and Sweet Success Sugarbush.
Molly Stepanski is the local food coordinator for Northeast Michigan. She enjoys digging in the dirt, hiking in the dirt, actualizing recipes, drinking wine, and eating anything deep-fried (in accordance with her southern heritage). Contact her at [email protected]