|Fresh Maple Sap under the waxing Sap Moon|
The Sap Moon is waning and syrup is being made in the sugarshack as I write. This winter was the mildest I've seen and its worrying syrup makers throughout the region. Its feared that the trees never had a chance to go dormant and the sap will be weak. Nevertheless we tapped 600 or so trees and are pushing thru despite our concerns. After all, sugaring is also about camaraderie!
For the Sap Moon I've decided to do a simple recipe with the sap itself. Everyone knows how to use syrup, but few people consume sap directly, which is a shame to me because it is so smooth, sweet and alive with nutrients. The sap itself can be used in place of water in any recipe and I've decided to make "switchel." Switchel is a traditional beverage that was quaffed by field workers on break. It is a non-alcoholic vinegar based tonic that is restorative, refreshing, and just plain delicious. It is mentioned in a Laura Ingalls Wilder book, so that makes it taste even better to me.
Maple Sap Switchel
1/2 gallon Maple Sap (or water)
3/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/2 cup raw organic Apple Cider Vinegar
2" ginger root, finely chopped or grated
Heat up two cups of sap enough to dissolve the syrup. (Many recipes call for boiling the ingredients together, but that would destroy the living nutrients of both the sap and the raw vinegar.) Steep the ginger in the hot mixture for ten minutes and allow to cool. Strain out ginger and mix with remaining sap. Add the raw vinegar and mix well.
And there ya have it! Simple, tasty and with all the health benefits of syrup, ginger and raw vinegar! I stirred mine with a Sassafras root, and the kids and syrup makers sucked it down. I admit that a vinegar based drink didn't sound very good to me, and the strong vinegar nose on this beverage put me off initially, but it is awesome! We sipped it while the first flush of migrating blackbirds trilled from the marshes and robins sang from the treetops. Spring is in the air and I'm off to the sugarshack for my 5th glass of the afternoon...