Once upon a time, I read a story about a little girl from the city, who visited her country relatives in Vermont. These relatives made maple syrup. She was left alone with the boiling sap and at a crucial moment, did something (for some reason, I thought she put in a little pitcher of cream), and saved the whole batch. She wasn’t just some dumb city girl anymore—she had saved the day.
That’s about as close to making maple syrup as I’ve ever been. But I can’t say the same of my friend Janet. Every year, she and her husband tap the sugar maples on their property on the shore of some frozen lake way up in Michigan, and then boil the sap for what seems like a million years (I think she said it was two weeks—but that can seem like a million years when you have to keep stoking the fire) and eventually—TA DA! Maple syrup.
I think she said (some reporter I’d make, eh?) that she had to accumulate between 50-70 gallons of sap to make two gallons of syrup. No wonder the stuff is as expensive as French perfume and sold by the ounce!
As it happens, I am the happy recipient of a jar of Janet's 2011 maple syrup production!
Confession time: I have NEVER had real maple syrup before. I know, I know—how sheltered can one woman be? I’ve only had the fake stuff…and truth be told, don’t like it much. I have had maple candy, which costs the moon and is so sweet you can only take tiny bites. So it was with much anticipation that I planned Sunday’s breakfast. Ahh, lovely Mennonite bacon, extra crisp homemade waffles, and Janet’s maple syrup.
Let me tell you, that fake crap ain’t passing my lips from this day forward. The homemade stuff was divine, and Hubby said it was better than a lot of Vermont maple syrup he’s purchased over the years--and in fact, the BEST he's ever tasted. We’re already planning on a repeat of Sunday’s breakfast. In fact, many repeats – at least until Janet’s maple syrup is gone.
I saw a story posted on AOL saying that Maple Syrup is in hot demand because there have been several bad seasons for collecting sap. Prices are as high as $100 a gallon for the pure stuff. Which makes Janet's gift all that more valuable, and thoughtful.
Hmmm…now to figure out how to stay on Janet’s syrup distribution list.
Do you eat the real stuff or the imitation syrup?