March Harvest: Maple Syrup
It’s March, which means here in Vermont, the Maple sap is a flowin’! This month in Farm-to-School the students explored how this sap, which is mostly just water, gets transformed into the golden goodness that is Maple Syrup.
The Native Americans were the first people to understand the process of sugaring, dropping hot stones into sap to boil it into syrup. There are a few tales from different tribes about the discovery of Maple Syrup. The Abenaki have a folkloric legend that I read to the students, and the Iroquoise Tribe believe it was an accidental discovery when someone mistook sap for being water, cooked with it, and realized the food had developed immense flavor and depth.
Maple Sugaring is very climate dependent, as daytime temperatures need to be above freezing and nighttime temps below freezing for the sap to flow. We turned to a farm in Lincoln, VT, Solar Sweet Maple Farm, for our supply of Maple Syrup, because of their humble acknowledgement of being at the mercy of Mother Nature when it comes to Maple Sugaring. They run their operation on solar energy, hence the name Solar Sweet, and use reclaimed glass and wood to create their cozy Sugarhouse, which hosts a yearly pancake breakfast and Open House at the end of March. I learned of this farm from the Leggett boys, whose grandparents own it and tap an impressive 23,000 trees a season!!
With our Solar Sweet Maple Syrup, the students and I created a delicious blend of homemade Maple Granola, using various spices, like ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla bean. What we ended up with is one of the most well-recieved Farm-to-School recipes to date!
Try this at home and enjoy it with some Maple Yogurt! Feel free to add any nuts or dried fruits– this is a great, protein rich alternative to sugary cereals in the morning!
Miss Meg’s Maple Granola
-2 cups of Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
-¼ teaspoon of Salt
-½ teaspoon of Cinnamon
-¼ cup of Coconut or Olive Oil
-¼ teaspoon of Grated Ginger
-¼ teaspoon of Orange zest
-¼ cup of Solar Sweet Maple Syrup
-½ teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
– A pinch of Ground Nutmeg
-⅓ cup of Raisins or any diced dried fruit
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, salt, and cinnamon.
- Pour in the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, nutmeg and grated ginger & orange. Mix well.
- Spread mixture evenly and pack it into the baking sheet. Bake for 22 minutes or until golden brown, flipping granola halfway through and then packing it down some more to create clumps.
- Let the granola cool completely and then stir in any dried fruit that you’d like to add.
Big Thanks to Solar Sweet Maple Farm!