Spring is finally here! As the warmer weather rolls in, we would like to take some time to celebrate the end of the maple sugaring season and give a big shout out to our friends at Ben’s Sugar Shack! We've been partnering with Ben's for the last two years and couldn’t be happier with the maple syrup they produce.
March is known as Maple Month as the conditions are just right for harvesting sap. During the night, when it is colder, the sap concentrates around the roots of the maple tree. When the sun warms up the tree, the sap rises up and out of the tapholes and into the hoses that bring the sap directly to the sugar shack. From there, the sap is boiled down in the evaporator, which is essentially a large metal pan, until the sugar concentration level reaches at least 66.9%. When this is done, the sap has now been turned into maple syrup.
Ben and his team have been working hard throughout March and early April to harvest their annual supply of maple. The sugaring season only lasts about six weeks and it takes a resounding forty gallons of maple sap to produce only one gallon of maple syrup, so you could imagine why it’s been such a busy time for Ben and his team- and why Spring couldn’t come sooner!
Ben has a long history with maple syrup. When he was five years old, he visited a maple harvesting operation in pre-school and was so excited that he began harvesting his own maple syrup with his Dad the very next day. By the age of fifteen, Ben had won the Maple Producers Carlisle Trophy, given to the producer of the best syrup in New Hampshire. Today, Ben operates two sugar houses, where he produces his award-winning syrup for both personal and commercial uses, and plans on expanding his business even further. If you are ever in New Hampshire during sugaring season, you can even go visit, taste the different grades, take tours of the sugar house and his operations, and try out his other maple products!
While this may sound like a whole lot of sugar, maple syrup is not highly processed like cane sugar. Therefore, maple syrup contains much higher levels of trace minerals, such as manganese and zinc, which provide important health benefits. Manganese has anti-inflammatory benefits and helps produce enzymes which are critical to energy production. Zinc helps with the production of white blood cells, which are crucial to the immune system, and it can decrease the risk of prostate cancer in men. Maple syrup also contains higher levels of antioxidants than cane sugar. Given these factors, maple syrup is one of the best natural sweeteners to use in cooking, which is why we use it in every batch of Four Plus Granola. This is how we're able to have a great tasting product without too much sugar. And of course, after trying Ben's and hearing his story, we knew it was the perfect maple syrup for our granola.
If you are interested in how you can swap out your cane sugar for maple syrup in some of your favorite recipes, visit Ben’s recipe page for a number of different ideas! As always, we love to hear from our readers, so feel free to comment if you have any questions or simply just love maple syrup!