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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Maple Syrup Festival


Several members of the Maryland Chapter of the Tasha Tudor Museum Society gathered at Cunningham Falls State Park in Thurmont, Maryland last Saturday for the Park's annual Maple Syrup demonstration.   Maple sugaring was one of the things Tasha Tudor featured in several of her books:  A Time to Keep, Around the Year, Seasons of Delight.  This drawing of hers is in Mary Mason Campbell's book, The New England Butt'ry Shelf Almanac. . . .


We'd had several inches of snow the day before and the landscape made for a beautiful backdrop for the Maple Syrup Festival. . . .


Edie and I were the first to arrive and to our delight it was not yet crowded.  We got in the short line for the hearty pancake and sausage breakfast (with genuine Maryland Maple Syrup) which was being held in an enclosed pavilion warmed only by a fireplace in the center of the building.   . . . .



Soon Gloria and Linda and her friend Scott joined us. . . .

There was some time before the next Ranger talk so we walked up to the Visitor Center to view the video by Outdoor Maryland about Maple sugaring in Maryland. . . .

After the video the librarian read the book, Sugaring by Jessie Haas, to the children. . . .

We went over to the Maple Syrup Boiling Shed to await the Ranger talk.  A volunteer was making a spout out of a Staghorn Sumac branch. . . .

The sumac has a soft core which makes burning a hole through it easier. . . .

This is what it looks like in the tree trunk. . . .

Linda took a taste of the sap coming out of a nearby tap. . . .

She said it did not taste at all sweet and was rather awful tasting.

The Ranger then began his talk by asking if anyone knew how maple sap was first discovered to be sweet.   He called on a little boy in the audience to give him the answer. . . .

The Ranger then talked about the wooden buckets that the colonists used to collect the sap, which were usually sealed on the inside with paint that contained lead.  They made their spouts out of metal and soldered with lead.  It would seem that eating sweets has never been a healthy thing to do. . . 


He told us about how the syrup is graded by color.  The lightest color has a delicate taste, amber is richer, a dark color has a robust flavor and the darkest is strong.  The last two are used mainly in cooking and baking. . . .

You can read more about Maple Syrup HERE.
If you want to try tapping your own maple trees, HERE'S HOW.
And HERE'S a fun song with pictures about maple sugaring.

.•*¨`*•. ☆ .•*¨`*•
Take Joy!

24 comments:

  1. Fun outing! We never saw maple sugaring when we lived in New England, but we've seen sorghum molasses demonstrations in Kentucky. The music in the last video could fit in nicely with the Bluegrass pickin' & grinnin' music I grew up with in Kentucky as well. Thanks for sharing; surely your next gathering will not feature snow!

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    1. It was fun! April 2nd is our next get-together......snow is not entirely an impossibility the way things have been going up this way!

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  2. Excellent Cathy!!!! Thanks for sharing another wonderful post and a great experience!!!
    Looks like you all had great fun!!
    Many Blessings warmth and love, Linnie

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    1. Many Blessings to you, too, Linnie!

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  3. This looks like so much fun! It must be so nice to live in a place like you do so close to nature. I have to buy my make syrup from the store!! I truly enjoyed reading your blog and seeing the lovely photos.

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    1. This festival has been going on for years and years, but it's the first time I noticed it! It was only because I was looking for things our Tasha Tudor group might be interested in. I have my "feelers" out now for things to do for the group.

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  4. A great trip, those pancakes and syrup looked delicious.

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    1. They were, but very filling. I couldn't finish them!

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  5. Cathy ~ I learn so much from your wonderful blogs! Heartfelt thanks for sharing your visits out and about. I love real maple syrup {hold the sausage patties for me, though!} and use it quite a bit as a natural sweetener. The snow did add so much to the picture too! I know you guys are fed up of the white stuff!
    I wonder if the Sumac tree is where Sumac seasoning comes from? Must go visit my old pal Google now!
    We have had a lot on at the moment as to how bad sugar is for us, but how can I resist maple syrup? Must be the lead in all the sweets ~ lol!
    ~~~Deb in Wales xoxo

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    1. Apparently, you can make a drink out of Sumac seeds, too. If you click on the highlighted "Staghorn Sumac branch" link it'll take you to a video about it's uses. The colonists would boil the sap until it was so thick they'd end up with a block of maple syrup "candy". I bought some in Vermont last year and found it was great to dissolve in my morning coffee.

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  6. What a neat adventure! I have to confess to being more than a little bit jealous. I've always wanted to see maple syrup being made.

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    1. Are there no Maple trees in your part of Canada? Canada is the largest producer of maple syrup!

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  7. Such am interesting post as we do not have maple trees in England for syrup.
    Your day looked such fun.
    Fondly Michelle

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    1. Michelle, other kinds of trees can be tapped to make syrup from their sap. Hickory is one I know of.

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  8. Very interesting post, Cathy. Looks like you had a lot of fun, not to mention a yummy pancake breakfast. Did you have any trouble staying awake afterwards? For some reason, I ALWAYS get drowsy after having pancakes, no matter what time of day. I don't think it's the carbs, because I can eat all kinds of other carbs without nodding off - LOL. Anyway, it was interesting hearing about the lead, and really surprising to find out that sap, right "out of the tree" was yucky. I'd always thought it had to be at least a LITTLE sweet. And I do wonder how it was discovered to be good to eat? How the the native Americans first use? How did it come to be boiled etc? I love learning the stories behind ordinary things, don't you? Always have [guess I've been a nerd since day one]. A few years ago I saw a very interesting program on the History Channel about the origins of certain iconic American foods [hamburger, hot dog, fried chicken etc] and no kidding but it was fascinating. There were several individuals interviewed who were "food historians" - something I'd never heard of at the time. Who knew?? I'll bet what they do is really interesting, although something tells me they probably didn't set out to do that originally. Apparently a lot of big companies have archivists and historians on their staffs. PS - did you bring any syrup or maple candy home with you? Take care and talk to you soon. xoxo

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    1. Janet, the Ranger explained that the reason it might not taste sweet to us is because we are used to very sweet sugar cane. The Native Americans only had berries in the summer to compare it with. Also, our pollution might make a difference today, wouldn't you say? Boiling it down condenses the flavor. And yes, I felt very sleepy later in the afternoon--probably when I had a blood sugar-drop! I'm very interested in the history of anything! I was wondering who discovered that sap from a tree could be boiled into a sweet syrup even before the Ranger started his talk. I know that pine sap is very sticky and seeps right out of the tree. Pine tar is made from the wood. Maybe another theory is they tried to use sap from other trees and discovered the Maple to be tasty! I didn't buy any syrup because I already have lots of real maple syrup in my cupboard. But the next time I need syrup, I think I'll try Maryland Maple Syrup.

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  9. Cathy, a very interesting post about the Maryland Maple Syrup Festival. I was reading in the paper this morning about the Highland Maple Festival in Monterey, Va. this past weekend. When we were visiting Vermont a few years ago we took our grandson to a sugar house to see how they boiled the syrup down to make maple syrup. It was so interesting, but quite dangerous. I'll go back to check out your links---what a nice outing for your group. ♥

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    1. After seeing the process you can understand why pure maple syrup is so expensive.

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  10. Interesting. And the pancake breakfast looked good. Was this your monthly meeting? Looks like a good one as you follow TT's life.

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    1. Yes, this was our March activity. We meet in two weeks at my house to make cut-wool rabbits from her Crafts book for Easter.

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  11. Very interesting and informative. Wishing I had a plate of French toast with Maple syrup right now! So there IS a use for the Sumac branch other than adding it to an autumn bouquet. Your Tasha group really has fun get togethers Cathy, I bet you are happy you put it all together.

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    1. Yes, because I would not have gone by myself! Having others to share something with really helps to get me out of my cozy corner.

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  12. A wonderful post I have seen maple syrup being collected on TV and it was lovely to join you in celebrating this festival. It does look cold , has all the snow gone yet?
    Sarah x

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    1. Yes, Sarah, all our snow is gone! And it looks like the temperatures at night will stay above freezing now. I have one crocus in bloom so far and lots of daffodils starting to come up.

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