Nature's Sweetener: From The Woods
An amazing natural sweetener. It comes from a plant and is all around us in central MN. I'm sure you already guessed its. Maple Syrup. It's truly nature's sweetener and it's filled with many beneficial minerals and vitamins for your body!
Maple syrup is my home's most used natural sweetener and it has such a distinct delicious flavor. It's our favorite! On our homestead we don't use regular sugar ever and we haven't for a couple years now. We do use raw honey, stevia, and maple syrup! With so many maple trees we have been tapping and cooking down sap for syrup for 4 years now. This year is the most we have ever made which is wonderful, as we use it so much in baking, cooking, and more! We also don't just use the syrup but we also drink the sap when we have it handy.
Nature's Energy Drink
When we first started tapping maple trees, we researched about the sap itself and how it could be beneifical to the body. We love drinking it when we have it handy and enjoy the many benefits from it. Maple sap is actually a better natural electrolyte drink than coconut water. It's almost like a spring tonic. It has been used by people for centuries! As the frosty days turn to warm and sunny, but freezing temps at night, the sap begins to flow. Trees produce more sap than you could possibly drink and that's why it's boiled down to produce a sweet substance to last year round. People in Korea have a long history of drinking maple sap and actually celebrate it with a festival each year. Some Korean people actually take weekend retreats and drink as much as 5 gallons of sap a day! They sit on heated floors (like a sauna), and drink sap. Their idea is to sweat out all the toxins and replace it with sap. A lot of this really rings true. You can really help cleanse the body with it the right way. So now you are probably wondering, what's in it that makes it so benefical?
Maple Sap & Maple Syrup Nutrition
Maple sap can be drank fresh, as long as it is not contaminated from a dirty bucket, container, or bag. It can be drank raw or pasteurized. While sap is in the tree, it is sterilized but once it hits a container in the outside environment, it is not. When we drink it, we do heat it a bit (we don't completely pasteurize) to help kill off the harmful bacteria, but not all the good bacteria! In raw sap, there is probiotics. It can be benefical for someone who cannot consume any dairy products at all. You have to be very careful when doing this yourself. The best and most delicious way is to drink it straight from under the tree or a clean container.
Now when cooking sap down to make syrup, it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!
Maple syrup contains many nutrients like iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, riboflavin, calcium, and potassium. A 1/4 up serving of maple syrup would provide you 40% of your daily requirement of zinc. It also has 22% of the daily allowance of manganese. Maple syrup contains many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Maple syrup is a great choice as it has a low glycemic index as well. Trees literally soak up the minerals and nutrients from the ground into this sap in which we turn to syrup. As the mineral content is different each year and each batch, you will see the color change. It can go from a pretty golden honey color to a molasses color.
Cooking Down Maple Syrup & Cooking With It
It takes many hours to cook down syrup. We have a small cooker that we feed with wood so we can make our own batches. We have enough for the year and it is delicious. It's the real stuff. Not the fake syrup you buy in the store that has loads of corn syrup and other harmful additives. You can even bake with maple syrup! I use it in a lot of things. You can use 2/3 cups of syrup to 1 cup sugar in a recipe. You may have to lower your baking temperature, but just experiment and see how you like it! We love putting in on homemade gluten free waffles, in our coffee, any baked goods, ice cream, etc.
Enjoy trying maple syrup instead of sugar in recipes and treats. You will like the taste and see the difference!