The Sweetest Time of the Year

ermatt01

One of the first and surest signs that Spring is on its way around here is the blossoming of the maple trees. After three long months of barren branches and bitter cold, the fluffy red flowers are a welcome confirmation that life is returning to the landscape.

These blossoms also portend something else–sap, the tree’s lifeblood, is rising from the roots where it sat during the winter dormancy up to the branches where it will fuel summer growth. Now is the time for enterprising humans to tap off some of that sap and turn it into delicious maple syrup.

The real deal

The practice originated with the indigenous people of North America, who cut notches in the trees in early Spring and collected the sap in birch bark buckets. This was poured into wooden troughs and boiled down by adding stones heated on a fire. The resulting syrup and sugar were…

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