Monday, April 30, 2007

Maple Syrup and Global Warming...?

"I hate to keep harping on the "global warming" subject, especially since there are so many questions that can't be answered. Such as, how much of this warming is natural, and how much caused by humans and industry? But I keep coming across evidence that the environment IS changing."

so says Larry Caplan, an extension educator-horticulture with the Purdue University Cooperative Extension in Indiana.

Read the whole blog post here.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Maple flakes as food additive?

A Canadian maple syrup manufacturer is introducing a new line of maple flakes, designed to add flavor, sweetness and texture to products such as baked goods and cereal.

According to Decacer, its maple flakes have a similar sweetness profile to sugar, but also convey a distinct maple taste.

Read the whole artilce here.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

It’s Maple Syrup Time, So Why the Whiff of French Fries?

The Energy Challenge
"It’s Maple Syrup Time, So Why the Whiff of French Fries?"
The New York Times
Published: April 28, 2007

Some maple syrup producers are using used vegetable oil instead of heating oil to boil their sap in an effort to help the environment....

Although there is no such thing as a typical season in the sugaring business, 2007 has been genuinely freakish, shattering all the expected patterns. The sap started running late but then seemed never to stop. When many thought the season was over, and some hapless sugar makers had already pulled out their taps, an April cold snap started the sap flowing again.

Complete article here.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Amazing Maple Syrup Battery

Scientists at Saint Louis University in Missouri say they've come up with a version of a fuel cell battery that can run on almost any source of sugar, from flat soda to tree sap, according to Wired magazine's blog.

The researchers say their battery gives three or four times more electricity per charge than standard lithium-ion cells. Their prototype version is a stamp-sized cell that runs a calculator, but the technology could easily by upsized to power mobile phones and laptops.

Commercial versions could be ready in three to five years.
As an added bonus, all the materials in the battery are biodegradable. “It demonstrates that by bridging biology and chemistry, we can build a better battery that’s also cleaner for the environment,” said electrochemist and project leader Shelley Minteer.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival

Arts & crafts, a queen contest, a parade -- and, of course, pancakes with maple syrup -- are all promised at the annual Maple Syrup Festival in Vermontville, Michigan.

That's an old billboard (pictured, above)! This year's dates are 27, 28 and 29 April!

If you'd like to know more, check the website, or call 888:482-4780 or 517:726-0670.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Warm Winters Upset Rhythms Of Maple Sugar

Published: March 3, 2007
The New York Times

One might expect Burr Morse to have maple sugaring down to a science.

For more than 200 years, Mr. Morse's family has been culling sweet sap from maple trees, a passion that has manifested itself not only in jug upon jug of maple syrup, but also in maple-cured bacon, maple cream and maple soap, not to mention the display of a suggestively curved tree trunk Mr. Morse calls the Venus de Maple.

But lately nature seems to be playing havoc with Mr. Morse and other maple mavens.

Warmer-than-usual winters are throwing things out of kilter, causing confusion among maple syrup producers, called sugar makers, and stoking fears for the survival of New England's maple forests.

''We can't rely on tradition like we used to,'' said Mr. Morse, 58, who once routinely began the sugaring season by inserting taps into trees around Town Meeting Day, the first Tuesday in March, and collecting sap to boil into syrup up until about six weeks later. The maple's biological clock is set by the timing of cold weather.

For at least 10 years some farmers have been starting sooner. But last year Mr. Morse tapped his trees in February and still missed out on so much sap that instead of producing his usual 1,000 gallons of syrup, he made only 700.

More here.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Maine maple syrup has international flavor

Staff Writer
Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel
published: Monday, April 16, 2007

TOWNSHIP 6, RANGE 19 -- Sap, like the tide, waits for no man, and Martin Lariviere works as he talks at his family's sugar camp in late March.

"Yesterday, it didn't run too much and we stopped at 1:30 a.m.," he said.

When the sap is running at something like full speed, Lariviere and his two brothers, Pierre and Fabian, sleep only about four hours a night, eating in shifts to make sure that none of the precious liquid is wasted.

Read more here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Maple Syrup and Sugaring in Western Massachusetts

Places to watch sugaring and buy maple syrup in Western Massachusetts are highlighted here in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Maple syrup goes 24/7 in Vermont

"In Vermont, where mountains are green and the cheddar is sharp, maple syrup isn't just about slathering on pancakes anymore.

"That's the view, anyway, of Steve Wheeler, who with his wife and an MBA degree taps 5,700 maple trees in northern Vermont, where syrup season is in its final stretch.

"Demand for syrup is increasing, and one Wheeler theory for the rise is the proliferation of TV cooking shows, which have inspired consumers to be more adventurous."

Read the rest of the article by the Boston Globe's Chris Reidy here.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Maple syrup gives one sweet lesson

The Associated Press

"KUTZTOWN, Pa. - The sweet odor of maple syrup wafts through Celeste A. Ball's room at Kutztown High School.

"Ball doesn't teach a cooking class, and there are no pancakes on the griddle.

"She's the school's agricultural science teacher, and the aroma is just an added pleasure in a lesson on the fine art of sugarbushing. That's country lingo for tapping maple trees and turning the sap into that tasty topping that ingratiates a stack of hot cakes."

Read the whole story here.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Global Warming Comes to the Breakfast Table

"After the warmest January on record, maple syrup producers in Ohio were surprised to have recently discovered premature maple tree buds. Budding of maples at this early date is unprecedented and means that, for the first time in living memory, there will be little or no maple syrup from the trees of Northeastern Ohio this year."

So says Laurie David (pictured) in The Huffington Post.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Maple syrup producers call for end to Quebec's quota system

Rolland Urbain (right), second vice-president of the Quebec maple syrup marketing board, inspects the quality of this year's sap run on his Ste. Julienne maple farm, which is in the peak of the sugaring off. Photograph by : Montreal Gazette/Marie-France Coallier

"Hundreds of the 7,300 maple-farm operators represented by the province's syrup marketing board are challenging a quota system introduced to manage the harvest that was worth a record $180 million last year," writes Mike King, CanWest News Service, in the Montreal Gazette, today.

Read more about the dispute here

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Maple syrup harvest down, again, in Ohio

The news isn't any better in Ohio. According to John Horton, a reporter for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland:

"The state's "sweet season" started late and ended early, leading to another off year for Ohio maple syrup producers.

"Yields fell below expectations at many local sugaring operations, with some reporting only half a crop, according to those in the maple industry. Some forecast statewide harvest figures to come in as low as 60,000 gallons, about 20 percent below the 15-year average.

"Lately, though, so-so seems normal: It has been six years since the last good sugar high, according to agriculture reports."

Read more here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

New Hampshire's first rite of spring

"March is maple sugaring time in New Hampshire. This uniquely North American natural phenomenon Nature is not restricted to the calendar like school vacations, holidays or town meeting day, but is dictated solely by day-night weather changes. Cold nights in the 20's followed by warm days when the temperatures go up into the 40's, absent a chilling wind, are the requirements for the sap to run.

"Our sugaring season can begin in late February and run into early April and even stop in between. Although sugaring season does coincide with mud season, no one knows how long the season is going to be until after it's over."

Read more at the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Service website.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Maple sugar slump in New Hampshire, too

The Sugar Shack in Barrington, NH.

"The maple sugaring season is drawing to a close, and at least one producer who took part in the recent N.H. Maple Weekend seems less than satisfied with this year's results," writes Jackie Ricciardi in SeaCoastOnLine.

"Ken Gowen, owner of The Sugar Shack in Barrington, said a good year would bring in about 600 gallons of maple syrup. So far, the Shack has produced only 130-140 gallons."

Read the whole article here.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

ABC TV agrees: Vermont too warm for maple syrup making

"Vermont Maple Syrup Hard Hit by Climate Change," says Bob Jamieson of ABC News. "Warmer Temperatures, Shorter Winters Could Move Industry North to Canada."

Read more here.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Warmer world puts squeeze on U.S. maple syrup

By Scott Malone
Fri Mar 23, 2007
LUDLOW, Vermont (Reuters) - In the seasonal rhythm of New England, March marks the start of sugar season, when farmers tap thawing maple trees for their sap. But some worry that a warming climate is endangering their future.

Complete article

Friday, April 6, 2007

Maine defines "maple syrup"

According to Business Week, Maine has decided standards for maple syrup.

"As Maine's maple sugar season wound down, Gov. John Baldacci signed legislation to clarify the legal definition of "pure maple syrup" to help consumers decide whether they're getting the real thing.

"The new law sets standards on how much sugar must be in syrup in order for it to be considered pure. It took effect immediately upon the governor's signature Monday.

"The bill was advanced by the Maine Maple Producers. The Maine Farm Bureau said the new standard helps to protect Maine's maple syrup industry.

"Maple sugar producers say that if there's too much sugar in syrup, it can crystallize shortly after sale. The new law helps to ensure that when someone buys "pure maple syrup," that's what they're getting.

"The new law will more closely regulate the import of products labeled "pure maple syrup" into Maine, said Jon Olson of the Maine Farm Bureau.

"Vermont, the nation's No. 1 maple syrup producer, has rules similar to Maine's new standard. Maine is the nation's second-largest maple syrup producer."

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A bit about the "maple syrup diet"

It doesn't work.


Well, we all sort of knew it was too good to be true.

Read the sad details here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Migrating Maple?

"Lately, sugar maples have become the polar bears of trees. Their unbeatable fall color and delicious syrup have always given the trees iconic status, but now, like the bears, they're objects of sympathy. As with the bears, their habitat is shrinking as winters grow warmer."

Read the whole thing at Slate.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Stuffed Buttercup Squash

Stuffed Buttercup Squash
courtesy of University of Minnesota's Ag Extension Service

4 buttercup or acorn squash
1 large apple, chopped
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400° F. Wash squash. Cut tops off and scrape out seeds and strings. Bake face down on baking sheet until squash is tender when pricked with fork. Combine remaining ingredients in saucepan and heat gently until well blended and soft. When squash is done remove from oven and fill cavities with filling. Pour a little maple syrup over each top, just to moisten and return to oven to heat through.