I often joke that I grew up thinking that "Maple" was a fifth food group. Well, I have to admit... it's really only half joking. I still find myself consuming maple products on a daily basis. And often it's more than once a day because it's really the only sweetener I use. I have maple syrup mixed in with my oatmeal, a spoonful in my morning coffee, some dumped in the crockpot with chicken and sweet potatoes, or maybe even a little bit on my vanilla ice cream. I was lucky to be exposed to this sweet, natural goodness at such an early age, and it has certainly become part of my everyday life! My mom and dad have always loved making maple syrup, and they grew up with families who produced it as well. So why shouldn't they share one of nature's perfect sweeteners with their children? And I must say that I am very glad they did!
I was 18 when I first discovered that there was such a thing as FAKE MAPLE SYRUP! *Gasp* I remember the day very clearly. I was in college and we had gone to the dining hall for breakfast. Myself and two girlfriends decided to try out the Belgian waffle-maker and indulge in waffles for breakfast. The sweet aroma of waffles had me salivating and I couldn't wait to sit down and eat them. As they finished cooking, I put one on my plate and reached for what appeared to be a ketchup bottle with maple syrup in it. "Ewww," my friend Nikki said. "You're going to eat the fake stuff?" I had no idea what she was talking about and proceeded to load my waffle with syrup, and passed the syrup to my friend Erin who said, "I love the fake stuff. That's all I eat." I remember laughing nervously, still completely unaware of what they were talking about. "Well, I'm just putting strawberries on my waffle because there is no way I'm eating that junk," Nikki said. As we walked to our table I finally admitted to my friends that I had no idea what they were talking about, and that they'd have to explain over breakfast. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I've always been a little on the naive side. I grew up on a farm surrounded by natural goodness, and seriously never knew how good I had it. Our way of life was vastly different from most other families, but I guess I never really knew that. I watched my mom and dad work their tails off 24/7/365 (no exaggeration) for everything we had and I just assumed that I would do the same. That's the way the world works, right? Well learning there is such a thing as fake maple syrup was just the first step for me in learning that my world turned in a slightly different rotation than most.
So here I was listening to my friend Nikki, a New Hampshire girl who had even worked at a Sugar House and Pancake Restaurant through High School, educate me on the difference between real and fake maple syrup. Erin, who had grown up just outside of Boston, didn't exactly have maple trees to tap, so to her the fake stuff was no big deal. Wow! I'm telling you now - I learned a lot in college, and it clearly wasn't just in the classroom! I had been born into a Maple Family, and because of it, I had been exposed to a world of maple that was right at my fingertips. I grew up tapping trees with my mom, dad, and sister. As a young girl, we would all bundle up and head out to the woods together to tap the trees, and then spend late nights in the garage where we would cook all of the sap, breathing in the most breathtaking sweet smell, until it was the viscous maple syrup that we know and love. There was no need for my parents to ever buy a bottle of Aunt Jemimah, so I never even knew about it.
Our "Maple Family" has created many "Maple Memories" and I look forward to sharing more with you as we expand on the blog section of our website. Stay tuned for more on our blog as we will continue to share news, updates, recipes, and yes, even a few trips down memory lane. We hope you enjoy our maple products as much as we do and look forward to seeing/hearing from you in the future. Oh, and just a side note, I am indeed carrying on my family's tradition in believing that maple is a fifth food group. My 4 year old daughter, Maya, has a glass of maple milk everyday!