Mohawk Valley Trading Company - Honey - Maple Syrup - Beeswax Candles

  (Utica, New York)
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Maple Syrup Season Early in Northeast Ohio

Utica, NY -- In Northeast Ohio, the unseasonably warm daily average temperature last January was above average by 4.4 degrees and the daily average before the arctic blast this January is 5.5 degrees above average. As a result of this, some maple syrup producers have started tapping their maple trees which usually does not start until the middle of February.

Pam Richards, of Richards Maple Products in Chardon said “Since it was so nice last week, we had good traffic in our store over the weekend and some people have already begun to tap. Last year if they didn’t tap in January they were out of luck.”

This reinforces what I and others know and have said; ” said Mary Ross of the Mohawk Valley Trading Company of Utica NY, where their maple syrup is made primarily from sugar maple sap. “there is a growing body of evidence that the earth’s ambient temperature is rising.”

“Over 5 years ago Timothy D. Perkins, Ph.D., director of the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center, testified before Congress in 2007, that maple syrup season starts approximately 8 days earlier than it did 40 years ago and ends approximately 11 days earlier.” Ross continued. “And the U.S. Global Change Research Program reported that temperatures in maple-sugar production regions of New England have steadily increased since 1916.”

According to the National Weather Service, both Cleveland and Akron show 2012 being the warmest year on record. The normal daily average temperature for Cleveland was 4 degrees above average, and warmer than the record set in 1998 by a half-degree.

April, September, October and November are the only four months out of the year where the daily long-term averages temperatures were below average. March was without a doubt the month that had the warmest temperatures in 2012 with the daily long-term average 13 degrees above normal. May (plus-5.2 degrees), July (plus-4.5 degrees), and December (plus-5.4 degrees) were included in other considerably warm months.

Akron’s below daily and above daily averages closely matched those of Cleveland as well with the daily average temperature for the year was plus-3.8 degrees.

About Maple Syrup

The production of maple syrup in North America predates European colonization. Early Native American societies in Canada and the northeastern United States were distilling maple syrup and sugar before those geographic boundaries existed. Maple sugar is made from the controlled crystallization of maple syrup and takes several forms.There is no written record of the first syrup production but several native legends persist. Many tribes celebrated the short maple sap collection season with specific rituals.

The Native Americans collected maple sap from v-shaped notches carved into maple trees. The sap was diverted into birch bark buckets using bark or reeds. It was concentrated by placing hot stones into the buckets or by freezing the sap and removing the ice, which is composed only of water.

Sugar maple sap is preferred for maple syrup production because it has an average sugar content of two percent. Sap from other maple species is usually lower in sugar content, and about twice as much is needed to produce the same amount of finished syrup.

When Europeans reached northeastern America they adapted native techniques to make their own maple syrup. The v-shaped notches were replaced with auger-drilled holes. This practice is less damaging to the trees. Bark buckets were replaced with seamless wooden buckets carved from lumber rounds. The method of sap concentration also changed from passive to active. Large amounts of sap were collected and brought to a single area where it was boiled over fires in round cauldrons until reduced to the desired consistency. ‘Sugar shacks’ were built expressly for the purpose of sap boiling. Draft animals were often used to haul fire wood and large containers of sap for sugaring. Maple syrup was an important food additive in early America because imported cane sugar was not yet available.

In the mid-1800’s syrup production changed again. Round cauldrons were replaced by flat pans in order to increase surface area and therefore allow for faster evaporation. Over the next 60 year several variations on this design were patented. Draft animals were replaced by tractors and heating methods expanded to include propane, oil and natural gas as well as wood.

The 1970’s represent another period of major changes in maple syrup production. Plastic tubing running directly from trees to the sugaring location eliminated the need for energy and time intensive sap collection. Reverse osmosis and pre-heating made syrup production more efficient. Recent advances have been made in sugarbush (maple trees used primarily for syrup production) management, filtration and storage.

There are two well known systems of maple syrup grading in use today. One system is used in Canada (where 80% of the world’s maple syrup is produced) and another system is used in the United States of America. Both systems are based on color and translucence with relate to the flavor of the syrup. Different grades are produced by the same trees over the length of the season.

Since maple syrup recipes usually do not specify any particular grade to use, take into consideration that darker colored syrups will produce dishes that a have a pronounced maple flavor.

The Mohawk Valley Trading Company hours of operations are 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST, seven days a week. Reach them at (315)-519-2640 to learn more.

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