December 17 – National Maple Syrup Day

Happy Maple Syrup Day!

Today is Maple Syrup Day, but we have to go back to March for sugaring season in order to have today’s maple syrup.

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Maple Syrup Season written by Ann Purnell and illustrated by Jill Weber (2008)

Hannah and Hayden break the trail to Grandpa’s sugarhouse the morning the sugaring begins. Grandpa and the uncles drill the holes in the maple trees. Grandma and the aunts hammer in the spouts. Hannah and Hayden hang the buckets and the younger cousins put the caps on the buckets. Three days later the buckets are filled to the brim with clear sap. The aunts prepare the sugarhouse and the uncles pour the sap from the buckets to a large barrel on the sled. When the barrel is full, it takes all the uncles to tip the barrel into the storage tank. Everyone watches carefully as the sap boils and soon the air is filled with the sweet smell of sugar. Finally, the syrup is filtered through flannel and the first of the syrup is poured into sample jars. The first batch of syrup is the lightest; it is called Fancy Grade. The next batch of syrup is darker and is called Grade A. And the last batch of syrup is the darkest and sweetest; it is called Grade B. The adults work all night in the sugarhouse while the cousins sleep in Grandma’s big bed. The next morning, Hannah and Hayden use new rakes to smooth down the freshly fallen snow. Then Grandma pours out a warm river of syrup in the snow. As it cools, it becomes a sweet, chewy, taffy. And everyone, even the grownups kneel in the snow to eat the sweet treat.

 826185Sugar on Snow written and illustrated by Nan Parson Rossiter (2003)

Seth and Ethan look forward to the next morning when they can go sugaring with their dad. The weather is perfect and the sap has been rising in the maple trees for two days. Now is the time to collect the sap in buckets and transfer it to a large tank pulled behind the tractor. That evening in the sugarhouse, the boys help Dad boil the sap. Then comes the best part of the day. Mom brings two empty  bowls. The boys fill their bowls with snow and Dad drizzles maple syrup over the snow. ‘All the sweetness of the day melted on their tongues.’

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Sugaring written by Jessie Haas and illustrated by Jos. A. Smith (1996)

Nora helps Gramp with the sugaring. She holds the buckets while Gramp pours the sap. She feels sorry for the horses who work so hard but only get hay to eat. She lets them taste the sap out of her hands and laughs at how it tickles. After lunch, Gramp starts the fire to boil the sap and tells Nora horse stories while they wait. When the sap begins to bubble, Gramp sets up a stump for Nora to stand on and watch the bubbles. Finally, Gramp opens a faucet to pour the thick syrup into a kettle. Nora can hardly wait to taste it. Gramp pours some into glasses and sets them in the snow to cool. It’s so sweet, they can only take small sips at a time. Nora pours a little syrup in her hand to feed the horses, but she has to pull her hand back quickly when she feels the horse’s teeth on her hand. Gramp tells her to take some syrup to Gram who will know what to do to make a surprise for her and the horses. Gram pours the syrup into a baking sheet. The next morning the syrup has hardened in the pan. Gram cuts it into maple sugar squares. Nora takes one for herself, one for Gramps, and two for the horses.

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