If you've ever scored a maple tree with your Barlow knife and licked your finger after sticking it into the bark's wound, you know the reason why maple sap needs to be boiled down to make syrup. While maple sap has a hint of sweetness and a hint of maple goodness, it isn't anything nearly as concentrated as what Mrs. Butterworth or Aunt Jemimah serve up. Maple sap straight from the tree is as thick as water.
Travelling a little farther afield than usual, we visited City Feed and Supply in Jamaica Plain yesterday. Nice shop and deserving of its reputation and crowds. We were en route to dinner so we didn't try the sandwiches, but we probably will another day when we find ourselves in that part of Boston.
We did pick up a 12 fl. oz bottle of something called Maple Seltzer that sported the official Vermont 'seal of quality.' This was tucked into a backpack and we drained the bottle this afternoon. The verdict: a hint of maple, a hint of sweetness; the way maple sap tastes. An aftertaste review of the bottle's label revealed the reason. The bottle contains "100% filtered and carbonated maple sap. No water added." Brilliant. You can charge a dollar seventy-nine a bottle without all the boiling down in the sugar house. Just add CO2 and you've added value. It works with Coca-Cola, why shouldn't it work with maple sap?
This Vermont Sweetwater is good but I can't say I'll be buying it again. The lady of the house agrees. I understand it isn't exactly cheap to gather, but, while it is a pleasant, sparkling drink I'm not convinced it's worth the price. Of course I don't eat much maple syrup, neither the kind stamped with Vermont's seal of quality nor the kind poured out the top of Mrs. Butterworth's head. I prefer clam cakes to pancakes.
Speaking of which, City Feed also offers some premium, top shelf clam juice. Sorry to say, we didn't purchase any yesterday in order to toast each other this afternoon. That's an errand for another day and another report.