This is not the sugary substance on your breakfast table shaped like a woman or a cabin. Maple syrup has been utilized for many centuries, dating back to Pre-Columbian contact. Harvesting maple sap is considered the first agricultural enterprise in the United States. Michigan is ranked 7th in maple syrup production in the U.S. We produce about 100,000 gallons of the sweet liquid each year from 500 commercial producers which contributes $2.5 million to Michigan’s economy. In addition to the commercial harvesters, roughly 2000 ‘amateur’ tappers collect the sap for their home-use.
Harvesting maple syrup is not a difficult process but timing is the key to collecting the sap. Maple syrup collecting season occurs in the springtime when the daytime temperatures are warm and the night is cold and below the freezing temperature. The season may be 6-10 weeks, but the sap really only runs about 10-20 days. This freezing and thawing aids in the sap to flow which is then collected into buckets attached to the tree. Sugar maples are the number one tree for the production of syrup but most maples will work. Recently, autumn collection has been happening just to see if the suppliers can keep up with the demand. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup so trying to find additional ways for more sap will hopefully stay in line with the need.
One of the main reasons I looked into this subject for this blog is the health benefits of nature’s wonderful elixir. Yes, maple syrup does have some advantages for our health, but, as with everything, it must be consumed in moderation. One of the main benefits of maple syrup is that it is very high in anti-oxidants which may help in the prevention of many diseases from cancer to arthritis. The darker the color is of real maple syrup; the higher the prevention benefits it contains. Not only do anti-oxidants work from the inside of our bodies, maple syrup can be used as a topical product to reduce the looks of aging. According to livestrong.com, pure maple syrup contains a large concentration of abscisic acid. This acid promotes insulin secretion of the pancreas and increases the insulin sensitivity of fat cells. This could be an effective way to combat diabetes. Another key plus to consuming maple syrup is it is high in zinc which can regulate serum zinc levels and lower cardiovascular disease.
Webster’s Prime uses Michigan Grade B maple syrup in our tasty chicken dish with Parisienne gnocchi with maple crème. We use Grade B because of its intense maple flavor and dark, rich color. The grading process relies on light transmission as a guideline with Grade A light amber allowing not less than 75% light transmission proceeding all the way to commercial grade (less than 27%). The Grade B that we use transmits about 27%-43.9%.
We invite you to come in and try our maple syrup dish or select from one of our wonderful menu items.
Richard J. Steward