Take a taste trip to the Wisconsin woods…
with Helms Sugar Shack – handcrafted pure maple syrup from a family operation near Barron, WI about 2 hours NE of the Twin Cities. They create 100% pure maple syrup – nothing added, the honest goodness is from from the tapped trees on the woodlot of Mahlon and Amber Helms.
The Helmses are "farmers" of a sort – tending to the health and sustainability of their maple "orchards" all year. Truly small-batch crafted, end output relies on Mother Nature setting the spring temperature cycle of freezing nights and daytime thaws just right, which causes the pressure changes inside the trees to make the sap flow. Then the family uses a mix of old traditional methods and new technology to coax out the sap, and cook it to create the sweet treat.
Obviously, good syrup tastes great on pancakes, waffles, muffins, scones and oatmeal. In addition to adding a rich, somewhat caramel flavor to food, it’s also a healthy way to sweeten almost anything. Maple syrup has healthful antioxidants, contains natural vitamins and minerals, plus is lower calorie and has a lower glycemic index than many sweeteners.
You can substitute maple syrup for white sugar in baking recipes – as long as they don't call for creaming (beating together butter and sugar): use 3/4 cup of syrup for every 1 cup of sugar, then reduce the quantity of liquid ingredients by about 3–4 tablespoons. It's a natural for fruit pies or crisps, or banana breads and the like.
Or drizzle a bit on simple roasted veggies or meats to up the comfort food taste. Plus maple syrup is easily dissolvable in beverages such as coffee, tea (hot or iced), lemonade, smoothies – or cocktails such as that Wisconsin Supper Club classic, an Old Fashioned, or even a Margarita!
High-quality maple syrup's labor intensive process does make for a higher price point. Keep it in the frig for day-to-day use or, if you feel that you won't use it fast enough, it keeps almost indefinitely in the freezer!
Thanks to Helms Sugar Shack for the photo of their woods!