This Book Delves Into One Family’s Journey in Sugarmaking and Simple Living
Sweet Maple: Backyard Sugarmaking from Tap to Table is a picturesque and charming tale of one family’s journey into making maple syrup from their homestead. The author shares step by step instructions for sugarmaking, a bounty of recipes, and a healthy dose of information about maple syrup.
I must confess that anything maple related catches my eye. So I jumped at the chance to review this book before it even hits the shelves.
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My History with Maple Syrup
I grew up in maple country. My great uncle Lyle and my second cousins ran a family sugar bush in western New York. Visiting the sugar house in late winter left me with many fond memories. The scent of maple sap in the evaporator pans filled the air and was often accompanied by eggs and bacon frying in a pan on a woodstove.
Sap buckets dotted the trees throughout the woods while snow still coated the ground. As spring approached, the scent of skunk cabbages and melody of robins tickled my senses. Those visits to the sugarhouse helped form my desire to homestead as an adult.
Maple on the Table
Maple syrup was a given on our table when waffles or pancakes were served. We drizzled it on our oatmeal, over homemade vanilla ice cream, and my Gram made Jack Wax for us with maple syrup and clean fresh snow in winter. I remember tasting the maple-flavored stuff. Let’s just say, I wasn’t impressed…even if it did come in a fancy bottle. To this day I can’t understand the fascination with wafflehouses that serve artificial maple-flavored goo.
Sweet Maple – About the Author
Michelle Visser created Souly Rested, a blog about her homesteading adventures on 14 acres in beautiful New England. She lives in an ancient Cape Cod surrounded with sweet maple trees, a family milk cow, chickens, and a beautiful garden.
Souly Rested is brimming with healthy and delicious recipes, how-to information, and her thoughts on simple living. I highly recommend subscribing for her free eBooks and wonderful newsletters! You won’t regret it!
Sweet Maple: Backyard Sugarmaking from Tap to Table
I love the look and feel of this book. It recalls fond memories of the family farm and my desire to return.
I’m enamored with the beautiful photographs of Michelle’s family and their historic homestead. Even their dog Bixby is showered with attention (and yummy maple dog biscuits – recipe included) in Sweet Maple! Every page welcomes me in and makes me feel like part of their community.
A Sweet Forward by Joel Salatin
Joel Salatin, the famed author, and owner of Polyface Farm opens Sweet Maple with a wonderful forward. He shares his family and farm manager’s successes with maple syrup. From maple donuts to a blossoming sugarbush, they have reaped the sweet rewards of maple each winter.
An Introduction to Michelle Visser and Her Family
In her introduction, Michelle shares her family’s journey from suburbia to their rural homestead…from a taste for ‘maple-flavored’ to a love of the real thing. In her search for the simple life, Michelle found that lifestyle is hard work! But it’s more rewarding to provide by the sweat of your brow and work together as a family.
The author goes on to share their not-so-auspicious beginnings in learning to tap trees and make real maple syrup. Their early efforts may have fallen flat but sometimes we learn best from our mistakes. Michelle leads us on an adventure from those first failures through some mapley messes and expensive lessons. After all the grit, she shares her family’s successful creation of sweet maple syrup and all of the yummy treats she makes with it.
Maple is Sustainably Sweet
I loved reading Michelle’s thoughts on sugaring as a sustainable way to sweeten your life. Self-reliance and decreasing our negative impact on the world is an important part of homesteading. She shares stories of how others have started making syrup even when they didn’t have trees to tap on their land. The act of sharing the harvest with those who share their trees is also an important lesson in community.
From Sweet Descriptions to Detailed How-To Info
Sweet recipes, stunning photographs, and loving descriptions of her family and their adventures grace the pages of Sweet Maple. However, the heart of this book is in the how-to instructions. Michelle describes in detail how to tap trees, what equipment you’ll need, and the entire process of making maple syrup from sappy start to sticky sweet finish. She shares how to preserve your freshly made syrup, how to clean up at the end of the season, and how to make maple sugar, maple cream, and maple candy too!
The Recipes Alone are Reason Enough to Grab this Book!
Michelle sprinkled scrumptious recipes throughout the pages of this book! From maple scones, maple-infused butter, maple oatmeal, maple sandwich bread to maple chocolate chip cookies, maple barbequed meats, and maple-sweetened drinks, Michelle shares recipes to keep you busy mixing, tasting, and licking your lips for a long time to come!
So even if you aren’t sure about tapping trees and making your own syrup, you’ll find plenty of nostalgic goodness and delicious recipes to warrant the purchase of Sweet Maple.
But What About My Health?
Just in case you are worried that all that maple goodness is going to get you in trouble with the bathroom scales, Michelle delves into the nutritional good news about maple sap and maple syrup! Of course, as with anything else, remember to enjoy maple responsibly by consuming in moderation.
You’ll be happy to know that using maple in place of refined white sugar is a healthier way to sweeten your life and your food. Michelle shares research from the scientists to back all of this up. Who knew that maple is good for your whole body, not just your tastebuds?!
Want more info about the comparison between maple and refined sugar? Check out this free resource from Michelle!
What if I Don’t Have Sweet Maple Trees?
If you’re thinking unhappily about a lack of sweet maples or the fact that you live outside of maple country, take heart! Michelle shares other species of trees and plants that can be tapped or otherwise used in the production of homemade sweeteners.
You can read about Joel in Virginia, who has had great success tapping trees far outside of the ‘maple belt.’ Michelle also shares how people are making their own sweeteners from Texas to the Pacific Northwest. Here in Illinois, sugar maples are uncommon but there are other options!
I’m excited that I can tap the black walnut, Norway maple, silver maple, and box elder trees on my little one-acre property. Supplied with the information in Sweet Maple: Backyard Sugarmaking from Tap to Table, I’m armed with everything I need to know to get started!
Final Thoughts About Sweet Maple
Even though I grew up in maple country with a sugarbush to visit, I learned a great deal from this book. The pages are filled with information that anyone interested in home maple sugaring will find useful. Michelle’s story and nostalgic descriptions of life on a historic homestead are sure to delight anyone wishing to return to a simple way of life!
Sweet Maple: Backyard Sugarmaking from Tap to Table by Michelle Visser is, indeed, a very sweet read!
How to Order this Book and Get a Really Sweet Deal!
There are several ways that you can get your hands on a fresh, hot off the press copy of Sweet Maple: Backyard Sugarmaking from Tap to Table by Michelle Visser!
Go to Michelle’s blog, Souly Rested and sign up for her awesome free eBooks to stay up to date on all of the sweet deals she is offering her readers! Michelle is giving away copies of her book too! So sign up and find out how to enter for a chance to win!
Don’t want to wait? You can pre-order the book from Amazon right now! There are bonuses available for pre-orders with $75 worth of extras offered…how cool is that?! I’ve got my affiliate links below if you want to order your copy now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of Sweet Maple: Backyard Sugarmaking from Tap to Table by Michelle Visser free to review. Michelle is also making a copy of her book available for a giveaway on my blog starting Monday, September 23rd at 8 pm. The opinions shared here are my own and are not influenced by the author.
In addition to writing for her own websites, Lisa has contributed articles to The Prepper Project and Homestead.org.
The author lives outside of Chicago with her husband, son, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a variety of poultry.