Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Easy Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Chocolate Pudding

Here is a recipe for delicious, creamy dairy-free chocolate pudding.  The best part? It's made out of avocados and sweetened with pure maple syrup.  Try it, you won't be disappointed!


SERVES 4 / ACTIVE: 5 Minutes / TOTAL: 40 Minutes

1 very ripe avocado
1 very ripe banana
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon brewed coffee or 1/2 teaspoon ground coffee
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 cup dairy-free milk (we used coconut milk)

Combine all ingredients in blender.  Refrigerate about 35 minutes to thicken.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

The sugar in maple sap

Sugaring is a year-round process for us, but the actual season for making maple syrup is in the winter-spring.  We usually start tapping the trees in early January, but this year we started on January 11 and several weeks later we finally finished.  Even though our "holes were drilled," the harsh, frigid weather continued with biting wind.  With no significant warm up in sight, the trees remained frozen for over a month after tapping ended.  This season, the sap didn't start to run until later than most years.  It wasn't until March 9 that we started getting sap from our sugarbushes.  To give some perspective, last year we had a sap run on January 11 through 15!

Kern measuring the sugar of the sap with a hydrometer

Sap is comprised of sugar and water, but mostly water. Now that the sap has finally started to run, we need to check the sugar density of the sap.  We check how much sugar is in the sap multiple times a day using a hydrometer.  The amount of sugar in the sap indicates how much sap we need to make a gallon of syrup.  The lower the sap sugar, the more sap it will take to make syrup.  The sugar in the sap varies with each day and place, with it usually being the lowest in the beginning and end of the season.  The sap sugars usually start out at around 1.2% in the beginning of the season, however this year it was 0.6%!  This means that it takes 143 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!

Since this winter has been so cold and icy, the trees were very frozen, and are just starting to loosen up.  While the arctic weather solidly froze the trees, the large amounts of snow on the ground insulated the tree roots.  Because the roots were not as frozen, our first runs yielded more sap than usual.  At the same time however, since the trees themselves were still so frozen, most of the sugar in the tree was withheld....leaving the lowest sugar density we have ever seen!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

From the inside of a sap tank

Ever wondered what it's like to be inside a sap tank?  

Today, Kern was the lucky one picked to squeeze his way down into the 1,000 gallon sap tank, used to hold the water that exits the reverse osmosis machine.  For many years, it's been a task-and-a-half to clean all our plastic sap tanks, especially the smaller ones- wriggling down inside, dragging the hose in after you, scrubbing, and coming out sopping wet.  For someone that is even semi-claustrophobic, this is definitely not a pleasant job.  The only opening in these types of tanks are about a foot & a half in diameter, so when you're inside the tank, this opening seems mighty small and one might find themselves wanting a little more air!   Fortunately for Kern, today he was just checking to make sure everything was in perfect working order, as we are selling this big tank and replacing it with a brand new, shiny stainless steel one.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer side dish

All ingredients, including maple sugar on top, ready to be mixed

This classic bean salad is an easy dish to make for the summer, or all year through! Instead of using regular white sugar, though, we make it with our granulated pure maple sugar.  Give it a try....even those who don't like maple will like this!

Three Bean Salad

15 or 16 oz. green beans
15 or 16 oz. kidney beans
15 or 16 oz. garbanzo beans
1/3 of a large sweet onion, chopped fine
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup granulated maple sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 - 1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Put all beans (use whatever kind of beans you want) and onion in large bowl.  Add vinegar, olive oil, maple sugar, salt and pepper, then mix together.  Chill in refrigerator.

All done!

Monday, April 21, 2014

What happens to all that water?

Maple sap is comprised of sugar and water.  Each day we test the sugar content of the sap with a hydrometer because the amount of sugar in the sap varies from day to day.  Sap consists of mostly water (ex: 98%), and a small amount of sugar (ex: 2%).

In our sugaring operation, we use a reverse osmosis machine (R.O.) to remove approximately 90% of the water out of the sap.  So, for every 1,000 gallons of sap we collect, we end up with about 100 gallons of concentrated sap.

The use of a R.O. allows us to boil for less time, thus saving energy.   If we didn't use a R.O., we would be boiling all night long, every single day!
Reverse osmosis machine

So, you may wonder: what happens to all that water that comes out of the sap?  Usually, if you didn't employ a R.O., all the water would evaporate into the air.  But, since the R.O. directly removes the water out of the sap, we have a large tank that the water flows into after exiting the reverse osmosis machine.  From there, we not only reuse the water to clean the R.O., but to clean our syrup pans as well.

When it gets to a certain point in the season, we must clean our pans from the evaporator every day.  The sugar sand accumulates and a thick coating of it is left on the bottom.  If we didn't clean them thoroughly, they would burn during the boiling process and the syrup would not taste good.  We reuse the crystal clear water from the R.O. to clean these pans, saving a lot of water!
A sugar sand coated syrup pan
Water from R.O. makes it's way through each section

Almost done!
Clean syrup pan

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sugaring Season Begins

Derek, Kern, and Sue tapping
Sue puts the spout on a drop line
Kern drills the hole
Derek taps in the spout

We are always on the lookout for damage.  Here, Derek fixes a bite in the tubing.

Big ol' maple

Sue, in her cold weather gear

This past Sunday, we plodded through the snow and began tapping the beautiful, bare maple trees.  The amount of snow on the ground during tapping is always something we keep in mind.  In previous years, we’ve had to drudge through deep snow, several feet high, making hard work of an important task.  Climbing through snow up to your hips gets tiring!  

After Sunday, though, the temperature increased and we had some rain, melting a lot of the snow and making it easier to get around the woods.  Since then, the temperatures have been frigid and ice-cold (which might be an understatement!), but tapping has continued during the warmest parts of the day. 

As of now, it looks like there will be a warm-up tomorrow, so hopefully the sweet sap will start to flow!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

We're gearing up for the holidays!

Maple products not only make great gifts, but are also an excellent addition to your pantry!  Visit us for delicious and nutritious sweet treats!

Crunchy maple coated peanuts - the perfect portable snack

Granulated maple sugar is a completely natural alternative to common white sugar...use it not only anywhere you would use white sugar, but for a subtle maple flavor too!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

For those of you who asked about the recipe for blueberry jam (and everyone else who may be interested), here it is!

Blueberry Jam with Maple Sugar

10 cups blueberries
4 cups pure maple sugar
3 tbsp. lemon juice

Put blueberries in a large pot and mash them with a potato masher.  Add sugar and lemon juice, mix together. 

Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened.  Takes about 50-60 minutes.  Pour into sterilized jars, capping them immediately after pouring.  Lay the jar on its side. 

* I did not need to use any canning equipment.  If the jam is hot enough and the jar is laid on its side, it should seal.  If jar does not seal, just store in the refrigerator.
* Use as much or as little lemon juice as you want- it's your preference.
* The same goes for the maple sugar...if you want your jam sweeter, use more.
* I used fresh, local blueberries, but you can use frozen.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Blueberry Jam with Maple Sugar


We took advantage of blueberry season this year, canning several jars of blueberry jam.  Instead of making it with white sugar, we used our own pure maple sugar.  The jam turned out to be quite delicious!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Derek decided to put up some buckets this year, and Lady accompanied me out to check them one warm, sunny day later in the season.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Growth

Every sugaring season consists of tapping the trees and after the season is done, pulling those taps. While out pulling taps this year, I gathered some photos of young maple seedlings covering the forest floor.

I was also able to snatch a few photos of a yellow Trout Lily sprouted amongst a sea of wild leeks.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Working in the woods

Working in the woods is an important part of our job.  Lately, we have been spending a lot of time checking our tubing for damage, like animal bites & chews and downed trees on lines.  We examine every inch of tubing, every dropline, and the entire length of every mainline.  We make sure everything in each sugarbush is tip-top so it will be ready for sugaring season.  This way there will be optimal sap flow in the spring.
A section of a sugarbush
Many animals, like squirrels, chipmunks & deer, chew on the tubing.  Along with the obvious lines chewed in half, there are also many smaller chews and punctures that need replacement in droplines and the actual line itself.  It is crucial that we inspect all of our tubing and fix any damage, from animals or just what incurs through time & weather.  We have also found many trees, both big and small, that have fallen on our tubing lines. 

Kern cutting up a fallen tree on the tubing
 Some excitement that always abounds when working in one particular sugarbush comes from the "dog-next-door," Izzy!  Izzy, a hound/lab mix, always runs over, her ears flapping in the breeze, and greets us.  We can't leave the vehicle door open too long, unless we want big, muddy dog prints all over the seat!  She is always bursting with energy, chomping at the bit to go on an excursion in the forest.

Izzy, Kern, & Sue
Romping in the sugarbush


Derek - after a days work