Who loves Maple Syrup? I do! I do! I love it drizzled over warm, butter slathered pancakes, and waffles. I love spiking my granola recipe with it, adding it to cakes, muffins, frosting, in baked beans and dripping it over bacon before cooking it. MMMmmHmmm every thing is better with a little maple syrup on it. I have yet to pour it over spaghetti noodles though.
When people think of Maple Syrup production they usually think Vermont, but actually Michigan has it’s fair share of Sugar Shacks too! Michigan ranks 5th for Maple syrup production. Maple syrup comes from the sap of Sugar Maple trees which are only found in a small area of the world. A short drive from our home is the Vande Bunte Maple Farm. Come on I’ll give you a mini-tour…..
The Vande Bunte brothers have been in the maple syrup business for 30 years, and what started out as a very small venture in 1982 has turned into a very large production that involves the whole family, plus the help of a few neighbors. Did you know it takes 40 gallons of sugar maple sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup? Yup, it’s true! Not only does it take alot of sap to make a little syrup there is a very short span of time in which you can tap the sugar maple trees. That’s why it’s called liquid gold. Maple syrup is not easy to come by, making it very precious. “Thou shalt not take Maple Syrup for granted”, is actually one of the lost commandments.
When the Vande Buntes started they hung buckets from the trees, the first year they had 75 taps. This year they had aproximately 2500! When the days become warmer, usually toward the end of February, but the nights still dip below freezing this is when the sap starts flowing, the warmer the days are the faster sap will flow, but only as long as it still dips below freezing at night. When the nights stay above freezing and the trees start to bud with their first Spring blossom the sap stops flowing and the sapping season is over.
The size of the tree determines how many times it’s tapped. From this view you can see the blue tubing, snaking through the woods, from tree to tree. All blue tubes lead back home….or something like that, or maybe it’s all blue sap tube lead back to the shack…….
I’m really not sure.
I had to show you this picture of my kiddos waiting for me in my ducted taped van (bottom right bumper…yeh that’s right I’m cool). They sat patiently as their mother ran over the river and through the wood like a coo coo bird taking pictures of the tapped trees and blue tubes. I should have done a fake trip and laid there, to see how long it took one of them to notice, and then get out and help me. On the other hand I don’t think I want to know……….
We were very glad to see the steam coming out of the top of the Sugar Shack when we pulled up, that means they are boiling the sap down to make Maple Syrup. It smells so gooood. The air is sticky and sweet with maple. There ain’t nothin like it! Another little taste of heaven on earth, I say.
Inside this cute little shack you’ll find the Vande Bunte brothers. With giant smiles spread across their faces. They are literally the sweetest guys. They are both more than happy to show you around and tell you about the history and methods of making maple syrup. What you see above is the “thingmajigger” (cain’t remember what Roger said it’s called) that they cook the sap down in to get the syrup.
They fill up these pretty bottles and ship them off all over the world. The Vande Buntes business is mainly mail order and advanced orders. The first year I ordered ahead, last year I forgot, and didn’t get any. (poopy lip) This year I also forgot to order ahead but lucklily they had these three bottles and I snagged them! Wah-chOUWT! I got smart this year and pre-ordered for next year while I was there. If you would like to order your very own Michigan Maple Syrup you can go here.
Today for lunch we had Swedish pancakes with our fresh brewed maple syrup. It was wunderbar!
Oh I wish you could have joined us!
How do you use Maple Syrup?
The Michigan Maple Syrup Association has some delicious recipes and great tips for cooking with maple syrup on their website.
Have a great Day!
Psssst Tuesday I’m GIVING AWAY one copy of Ree Drummonds 2nd cookbook Food from my Frontier!!! Ya’ll come back now ya hear!