Tag Archives: Museum

Maple Syrup Uses and Recipes

29 Mar

It’s that time of year again when maple syrup is harvested and processed. To learn about the harvesting tradition and how to make maple syrup, visit these archived articles at http://bit.ly/dEhFJK. Aside from using it on waffles and pancakes, there are a variety of things that maple syrup can be incorporated into to create new flavors or uses.

  • Glazes for ham, nuts, carrots, yams, squash, beans, or apples
  • Drizzled over oatmeal, donuts, biscuits, ice cream, toast, granola, popcorn, or grapefruit
  • Added into ground beef before cooking
  • A marinade for meats or fish
  • Used to caramelize foods such as onion or bacon
  •  Put into relish or sauerkraut recipes
  • Baked with sweet potatoes
  • Whipped into butter or cream
  • Flavoring milkshakes or coffee
  • Baked into cookies or pecan pies


For specific recipes involving maple syrup, visit:


Check out the black ash baskets!

17 Feb

Last week, 18 adults and 350 youth participating in the Fiber Arts: Black Ash Baskets and Birchbark bitings workshops were immersed in a world of art and culture. Led by artist Kelly Church, participants created their own artistic baskets and birchbark bitings.

The bitings are a rare form of art that not many people know about. “It’s an old traditional art form that is trying to be reintroduced,” Church said. “Before I learned, there were only four people in the state that knew how to do them.” The bitings are made from peeling a piece of birchbark down to one layer, folding it (similar to making a paper snowflake), then biting on it. Church described it as “drawing with your teeth.” Historically, the bitings were done while telling stories or while picking berries.

The adult workshop participants also created a traditional black ash basket as well as a vinyl blind basket to show what future baskets may look like using manufactured materials if the black ash trees were no longer available.


Miigwetch (Thank you) to all of the Artist-in-Residence participants!

Let’s Have Some Fun- How To Make Maple Syrup!

18 Mar

There are many variables to consider when attempting to make maple syrup. From what kind of tree to tap, to working with sap, this step-by-step guide will teach you how to make your very own maple syrup!


Select a suitable tree. Any trees in the maple family (sugar, silver, red, or box elder) are all acceptable choices, as well as walnut, hickories, sycamore, and sweet birch. Trees should measure at least 1.5 feet in diameter and should be well exposed to the sun.

Weather conditions greatly dictate the flow of sap. Sap flow will generally begin after a bout of cold weather (long freeze)- followed by several warmer, sunny days. The flow lasts from three to four weeks and is strongest in the afternoon.

 Tapping the Tree:

Drill the tapping hole three feet from the ground and about 1.5 to 2 inches deep into the trunk on the sunniest side of the tree. Drill the hole slightly upward so that gravity will help the sap run out. Avoid drilling directly below a limb. Standard drills are used, although drill bit size may vary.

Your chosen spile (spout) size will determine the size of the hole that you will need to drill into the tree. (Commercial spiles require 3/8” drill bit) Shavings from the drilling process should appear damp if the sap is flowing in the tree.

After drilling, insert the spile into the tree with the hook facing toward the spout. Tap the spile into the hole firmly. Hang a bucket from the hook (your bucket must have a hole to accept the hook). Make sure that the bucket is covered in order to avoid rain or other unwanted materials from entering the sap. Remove spile and bucket after the tapping season is over- because copper is poisonous to the tree if left in.

 Making Syrup:

You will need to check the bucket at least daily, and during heavy flow, possibly several times a day.

All sap collected should be boiled as soon as possible (or it will spoil) in a wide, shallow pan. Sap should be boiled in an outdoor environment, such as an outdoor gas range or outdoor fire place. Boiling sap produces a great deal of steam. This is a trial and error process. Temperatures and measurements are unknown due to the large variation in each situation.

Sap will boil over the edge of the pan if too much is being boiled at once, and will burn if too little is being boiled. Adding sap to the boiled down syrup is ideal and will help keep it from burning. Boiling sap should be constantly monitored and watched over carefully.

Sap becomes finished maple syrup when it reaches 66-67 percent sugar content and boils at around 220 degrees F. Syrup should be placed in containers while hot, but then stored in a cool, dry place.

Enjoy your maple syrup over a large stack of pancakes or some delicious waffles!
Mmm… sweet!

Thank you to:

David B. Fankhauser, Ph.D.,
Professor of Biology and Chemistry
University of Cincinnati Clermont College,

for his research and detailed description of how to make maple syrup.