Michigan's maple syrup industry ranks fifth in the nation! One of the places in the state to celebrate the sweet stuff is the 70th annual Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival, set for 23-25 April. The syrup producers are located throughout the village selling syrup, candies, crème and the ever-popular maple syrup cotton candy. Besides, there are pancakes with real maple syrup offered by the Maple Valley Band Boosters and the American Legion. Celebrate the first agricultural crop of the season! (Look for Vermontville to the west of Lansing.)
Here are some simple things to do with maple syrup, courtesy of Vermontville:
Hard Maple Sugar
Darker grades of syrup are suitable for making maple sugar. Heat a quantity of maple syrup until the temperature is approximately 40° F above the boiling point of water (to 252° F). Remove from heat and being stirring immediately. When the syrup begins to thicken and sugar crystals form, pour the partially crystallized syrup into molds to harden.
Soft Maple Sugar Candy
Heat pure maple syrup to a temperature of 27ºF above the boiling point of water (to 239ºF). Allow to cool slowly, preferably by settling the pan on a wooden surface for even distribution of heat. When the temperature of the syrup solution reaches 155ºF, stir with a wooden spoon. When crystallization begins (syrup will be soft and plastic) pour into molds to allow to harden.
Granulated (stirred) Sugar
Heat the syrup to a temperature between 40ºF and 45ºF above the boiling point of water (to 252ºF to 257ºF). Immediately pour the hot syrup into a large tray or wooden trough for stirring. Continue stirring until all moisture has completely evaporated and granulation is completed.
Use light colored grades of syrup for best results. Heat the syrup 22ºF to 24ºF above boiling point of water (234ºF to 236ºF). Remove from heat and cool rapidly to 70ºF or below (50ºF is preferable). Stir the stiffened, cooled syrup with a wooden spoon until creaming is completed. While still in a pourable condition, transfer to storage jars or containers. Store under refrigeration.
A favorite product for parties, this taffy-like product is simple to produce. Heat the desired amount of syrup to a temperature of 18ºF to 23ºF above the boiling point of water (to 230ºF to 235ºF).Without stirring, pour immediately over clean, fresh snow or shaved ice. Since the cooling is rapid, the supersaturated solution does not have time to crystallize, and thus forms a glassy taffy-like sheet. Serve with fresh unsweetened doughnuts and dill or sour pickles.
Other Maple Products
Maple syrup is widely used as an ingredient in a variety of other food products. Because of its high sugar content, it can be substituted for sugar in many recipes. When substituting, use 1½ cups of pure maple syrup for each cup of granulated sugar, and add ¼ teaspoon baking soda for each cup of maple syrup used. When maple syrup is substituted for all sugar in a recipe, reduce the amount of liquid used by one half. If maple syrup is substituted for half the sugar, reduce liquid amounts by one-fourth