Too often, though, we take simple joys like maple syrup for granted. Where does it come from? How is it made? I’ve always imagined a community of lumberjacks in some dramatic, northern location (like Canada or Vermont), toiling away the wee hours of the morning to whip up a secret concoction. Now that I’m basically a northerner, (at least geographically), I’ve learned that maple syrup is actually a very hot commodity in our very own mitten! Michigan, you’ve surprised me yet again—why are you always so cool?I recently stumbled upon “Maple’s Sweet Story,” a series of weekend tours during March that detail the process of maple syrup production. Taking place at several area Metroparks, “Maple’s Sweet Story” guides visitors through basics such as maple tree identification, tapping tools, and the overall sap-to-syrup transformation process. The tours are led by experts who combine just the right amount of instruction with hands-on demonstration, so attendees can realistically walk away with sufficient knowledge to tap maple trees in their own yards. The task of producing enough sap for a stack of pancakes, however, is a greater chore than many might expect. According to the tour guide at Kensington Metropark’s sugar bush, it takes 40 gallons of sap to produce just one gallon of maple syrup. Factor in tapping trees only 10 inches or larger in diameter (it often takes about 30 or 40 years for trees to mature to this size), and you’re gonna need a really big forest and a lot of free time.
Have you visited any Metroparks recently or in past years to learn about Michigan’s maple syrup production? Are you willing to pay a little more for local products, or are you interested in making similar products on your own? Comment below with your thoughts!