As Spring approaches, many of us will get out to start our Maple Syrup operations. Pure maple syrup is a natural and nutritious sweetener and a smart choice as a sweet topping or as a flavorful ingredient in baking and cooking. Maple Syrup is 100% natural and unrefined,

retaining the inherent nutritional value of the sap obtained from the maple tree.

Maple syrup is a very good source of mineral nutrients and vitamins. Maple Syrup contains over 54 identified antioxidants and minerals. Compared to some other sweeteners it is lower in calories as well. According to many studies, maple syrup is deemed a healthier sweetener option.

In the state of Wisconsin, it is regulated that any maple syrup labeled pure must not contain any additives including flavor additives as some may. Pure Maple Syrup contains NO preservatives and can be kept in a sealed container indefinitely. After the opening of the container, it should be refrigerated to prevent mold. Maple Syrup can also be frozen. Maple Syrup may form sugar crystals inside the jug, but these are not dangerous to your health. Check out the food safety guidelines when making maple syrup.

Learn how to identify maple trees in winter. The middle of February to the middle of April is the time period to tap across Wisconsin. It will depend on the local weather conditions and the type of tap method you implement, but usually a good rule of thumb is to tap when you have had one or several days where temperatures have been above 32 degrees Fahrenheit and fall back below freezing at night. The reason for this is because at night, with the cold, sap leaves the roots and travels up within the tree. Then in the day the sap flows back down towards the roots due to gravity and the pressure within the tree. With a tap in the tree at this time the sap will flow from the tree as it flows downward within the tree. Each tree tap should, in a good year, produce an average of 40 gallons of sap which produces 1 gallon of maple syrup.

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at .