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a tap collecting sap from a sugar maple

March is Michigan Maple Syrup Month


Vermont isn't the only state producing this delicious breakfast staple.
 

March is Michigan Maple Syrup Month

Maple Syrup: A sweet northern Michigan treat

Vermont isn't the only state to produce this delicious breakfast staple. This time of year the days are getting warmer, but the nights remain a little chilly—the perfect combination to make sap start running.

Running sap?

For those who may be unfamiliar with this centuries old rite of spring, the freezing and thawing creates pressure, forcing sap to flow through the tress, specifically sugar maples. The faster the temperature rises the quicker the sap flows, with the heaviest flow happening each morning as the sap thaws. But once the trees begin to bud the result is a bitter tasting maple syrup and the end of the sap season.

Michigan's first agricultural crop harvested each year

The production of pure maple syrup is the oldest agricultural enterprise in the United States and one of the few agricultural crops in which demand exceeds supply. With 90,000 gallons produced annually, Michigan ranks fifth in the nation for maple syrup production, with only about one percent of the state's maple forest being used for syrup production.  A sugar maple has to reach 10 inches in diameter (about 40 years of growth) before it's mature enough to be tapped.

When sap becomes syrup

Approximately 40 gallons of maple sap is needed to yield one gallon of maple syrup! When it is first harvested, the sap is a slightly sweet, colorless liquid. It must be boiled to 219 degrees Fahrenheit before it becomes syrup, the longer it is boiled the thicker it becomes as water and moisture evaporate. The average tap hole produces 10 gallons of maple sap, or one quart of Pure Michigan maple syrup.

Local maple syrup production

The Little Traverse Bay bands of Odawa Indians, or Ottawa, returned each spring to the Little Traverse Bay area to collect maple syrup, fish and plant crops. According to legend in the Old Days, the ancestors only had to find a sugar maple, drill a hole and out maple syrup would flow. But Nanabozho, the Great Transformer, was afraid this method was too easy and would make the people lazy so he devised a way to dilute the sap making boiling a necessary part of the process. (Ritual and Myth in Odawa Revitalization, by Melissa A. Pflug) 

Today several sugar bushes can be found in the area, with many holding weekend workshops and tours. The Martha Wagbo Farm and Educational Center in East Jordan holds an annual open house, and Maple Moon Sugarbush and Winery in Petoskey is America's first and only maple winery. Their store sells premium maple ice cream, syrup, sugar, candy, root beer, and most uniquely, maple wine. A short drive from Bay Harbor, Maple Moon is a fun way to spend an afternoon tasting and learning about maple syrup with free tours every Saturday afternoon at 4pm during the season.  

So the next time you are enjoying a delightful breakfast in Sagamore's, don't forget to ask for Pure Michigan maple syrup to go with your fluffy pancakes and golden waffles. 

Sources: 
Michigan Maple Syrup Association

The Inn at Bay Harbor - A Renaissance Golf Resort opened in 1998, and become a member of the Renaissance Hotels family in 2003. Owned and managed by Boyne Resorts, The Inn is located on the shores of Lake Michigan's Little Traverse Bay near Petoskey and invokes the flair and romance of turn-of-the-century northern Michigan inns. The resort offers 129 guest rooms and suites, Lakeside Cottages, Crooked Tree Golf Club and the renowned Bay Harbor Golf Club, full-service spa, dining, wedding and meeting facilities. The Inn has earned TripAdvisor's Certificates of Excellence, Golf Digest's Best In State, GOLF Magazine's Silver Medal Award for Overall Excellence and named a Top Resort and Top Spa by Condé Nast Traveler readers.
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