I had a wonderful weekend. My sons and their entourages were here on Saturday and Sunday. We celebrated the holidays a little early by opening our gifts on Saturday.
Yesterday morning we made pancakes. The youngest of us all, Princess Emma, did the stirring of the batter and picked chocolate chips to go into some of pancakes. We made blueberry pancakes, too, along with a couple of plain ones just in case someone preferred a basic, no frills, kind of pancake.
(Pancake batter. Winter Solstice 2008. Photo © Robin)
Veggie “sausages,” orange juice, and locally-tapped Ohio maple syrup filled out the rest of the meal. Vermont is famous for their maple syrup. Here in Ohio we try not to advertise the delicious goodness of our maple syrup because that way we can keep more of it for ourselves. Among the 100+ trees M and I planted a few years ago, there are plenty of sugar maples in the mix in hopes that someone someday will be tapping them for syrup.
Tapping of the maples in Ohio usually begins about six weeks after the winter solstice. The change that causes the sap to run begins in late January or early February in southern Ohio, making its way north by March. It is said that if you drive around Geauga county here in northeastern Ohio in late February or early March, you’ll find sap collecting buckets on every sugar maple, even on those maples located in towns.
The tapping season is relatively short in Ohio (4-5 weeks, I believe), but the length depends on the weather and the trees. Day and night temperatures need a big swing between them, oscillating from above freezing in the daytime to below freezing at night. The barometric pressure has a role in here somewhere, too, but I’m not quite sure what that role is.
Sap tapped late in the season is the most flavorful. It is said to have a “bark.” But if you wait too late and the trees are starting to bud, the sap will produce “buddy” syrup which has a more earthy, vegetative taste to it. Most people prefer their syrup with a bark.
It takes a lot of sap to make syrup. You need 35-45 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. That translates into 3-4 taps per gallon. In terms of nutritional value, maple syrup has as much calcium as milk. The problem with this claim, as I see it, is that not many people are going to drink a glass of maple syrup. But it is nice to know you’re getting a little calcium with your sugar. Maple syrup is also a good source of potassium.
I have no idea why I started rambling about maple syrup. I meant to write about the weekend.
I guess I’ll just leave it the way I started: I had a wonderful weekend. 🙂