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Monday, July 28, 2014

Maple Sugaring at Dodge

Pancakes and real maple syrup were served up at the Environmental Elementary School across the street.  We made it gluten free for the middle girls by bringing our own pancakes for them.  

We are lucky enough to have a nature center (and preschool) down the street, and every year they invite members and the public alike to a maple syrup pancake breakfast.  Last year we swung in for the earliest possible shift (7:30) and then out again to get to music lessons on time, forgoing the maple sugar tour.  Not so this year!  We had the week off of music lessons, and were able to stay and get the full effect.

The Maple Sugar/Syrup House

The tour was fabulous.  The mid March weather gave us a mild winter day, full of freezing and thawing--just right for making maple syrup.  The kids enjoyed snapping ice bubbles that form in late winter and our guide remarked that it seeing kids up to this sort of behavior was a perfect indicator that it was maple syrup time. 

We saw how they tapped the trees, boiled the sap and even got to taste a little maple sugar.  Though it looks nearly identical to light brown sugar the taste is incomparable.  That unmistakable maple flavor is locked in to every crystal of sugar.  While the maple sugar is made in the huge cauldron hanging over the fire, there was a much more sophisticated system used for making the syrup used at the pancake breakfast.  A rectangular table (actually a stove) is covered in a maze of metal channels through which the ever-thickening sap is sent as it cooks down to maple syrup.  All the movement keeps the sap from burning.    

Lucky for us, we also got to try a special experimental concoction of maple caramel one of the naturalists had made the day before, which was exceptional.  Needless to say, when little bottles of syrup showed up for sale at preschool, a couple made it home for pancake breakfasts at our house.

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