We have successfully bucketed our way through another sugaring season! YAY!!!
As we wrap up the end of our maple syruping season, we ventured into a new dynamic–Maple Sugar!!! All I can say is WOW! as I am still marveling at the magic of making maple sugar. I have to admit, however the prospect of making maple sugar, was slightly terrifying. After all, taking an entire quart of liquid gold, aka maple syrup, and heating it up fifty or so degrees above the boiling point was enough to make me sweat, without the steam evaporating out of the pot! I thought for sure I would burn or scorch it, and it would all end up in the garbage, not even the chicken bucket, lest their little beaks would stick together…and me huddled on the dirty floor in the corner of the kitchen lying in a puddle of very salty tears. Well, it’s safe to say none of that had to happen, because let’s face it, no one wants to see that.
It turns out that making maple sugar is actually not that hard, just intimidating. My thoughts of burning liquid and sugars were unfounded. Somehow, I just could not get my mind to bend around the idea that syrup could, and definitely would, quite by a magical process turn into dried crystallized sugar. Now, don’t get me wrong, I knew that it was POSSIBLE, but I thought it perhaps, beyond the scope of my powers. I must admit, my magic wand has been out of order for a long time now. But alas, fear not, no magic wand needed, the scientific process of vaporization shall work said magic for you.
We followed the process for making maple sugar, here. This link gives wonderful step-by-step photos and instruction, it took the guess work right out of the process. (Although it was a little hard to believe, until I actually went through the process myself!) The actual instructions come right out of The North American Maple Syrup Producers’ Manual–page 188. A pretty reputable source, I might say. Click on over and check out the process, you will be glad you did.
After making maple sugar myself, all I can say, is it’s a very amazing process. Once you have reach 260 degrees, brought your syrup into a hard candy stage, and pour it into the mixer, the taffy-like consistency fools you into believing that you may have messed up, but just as you are thinking that, the mysterious mixture starts to change consistency, begins to look grainy, and then suddenly in a burst of sweet maple steam, the water vaporizes right on out of the mixture…POOF!
The sugar crystals then form, you continue stirring in the mixer, until the steam subsides, then pour the warm sugar onto a cookie sheet to cool the rest of the way. I continue to stand in awe and amazement, at the process of making maple sugar. It was not a difficult process, and one that heeds results that are out of this world. The taste and texture of maple sugar are outstanding. It is at once, delicate and bold, melts deliciously in your mouth, and leaves you with none of that refined sugar ick that comes with eating regular white sugar. Maple sugar is, in a word, satisfying.
It is whole and robust, and I am pleased to announce that even after consuming copious amounts, one is not left wanting for more. There are no sugar shakes, no carb crash, no familiar ill effects that usually accompany sugar consumption. You can thank me later, for researching that for you’all.
Making maple sugar will become a tradition in our home, leading us to need a few more taps next year!!! I encourage you to try it, if you have been intimidated by the process, the results are quite magical on the tongue, and definitely does not live up the amount of trepidation that I had for the process.
Fear of the unknown, most of the time is unwarranted… So be brave, be bold, make maple sugar.
Your family will thank you, and oh! You may want to carve a big stick, or a sturdy wooden spoon to keep all the fingers out of the sugar dish!!!! ;)