Syrup Season

 

Early spring here in the northwoods of Wisconsin is a sweet time of year.

 

Tapped Trees

 

Tapping maple trees for nature’s northern nectar is more than just a seasonal chore, it’s a valued, family tradition. Slogging through knee-deep snow, drilling taps, hanging steel buckets and then hauling the full buckets back to a “sap wagon” is a lot of hard work but the warming sun on the back of your wool jacket is a gentle reminder that calving season and green grass is near.

And so is the most delicious of treats nature provides: real, home-cooked maple syrup.

 

 

Dripping Tap

 

The process: As fall crosses the finish-line passing the baton to winter, trees pass into dormancy by releasing their sap reserves through their roots and into the ground. All winter long, the trees stand lifeless. As winter begins to fade, days stretch longer and the sun gets warmer. The south-facing side of trees will start coming out of dormancy and, by regulation of temperature, begin slowly ebbing and flowing their life-juice back into their trunks and limbs. This is prime tapping season. Some trees will produce up to 5 gallons of sugar-rich maple sap per day! Sap looks like water but has a subtle hint of maple flavor.

 

 

Cooking Syrup

 

Once the sap is collected in the sap wagon, it’s taken to a cooking vat in the cooking shed that reduces the water content to concentrate the naturally occuring sugars. Once the sap is measured to have the right density, it’s strained and bottled with no other ingredients. There is no candy on earth that rivals a spoonful of fresh, warm maple syrup right before it goes into the bottle. By the way, that 5 gallon pail of sap that one tree produced will only produce 2 pints of finished maple syrup. So much time and effort goes into one little bottle of real maple syrup. Which is why everyone licks their plate clean after a special oatmeal pancake breakfast!

 

 

Finished Syrup

 

Maple sap is a complex, naturally occurring sugar with many vitamins and minerals making it one of the few good choices for a sweetener. We use local, northern Wisconsin maple syrup in our sausage recipes. It makes such a difference in the depth of flavor in addition to the nutritional aspect. Our motto for life is to deeply nourish people, animals and creation as nature intended. Maple syrup fits right in.

 

And, there is something extra sweet about a little sweat equity.

 

Live well this week,

Sean & the Northstar Tribe

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