Hiya, gum chums!
Did you know that I’m just wild about non-timber forest products? It’s true.
What the heck are non-timber forest products, you say? I thought you’d never ask!
When you think about forests, you think of trees, right? Furniture, lumber, etc. But there are lots of non-timber forest products (or NTFPs for short) that don’t depend on cutting down the trees for people to make a living. Harvesting berries, mushrooms, and other plants provides a means of long-term income for folks. On the other hand, chopping down the trees can destroy eco-systems and, ultimately, communities.
So NTFPs are loosely defined as all non-timber forest vegetation with the potential for commercial value. NTFPs can help to preserve fragile eco-systems, restore biodiversity in damaged forests, and foster greater economic stability in neighboring communities. Pretty swell stuff!
My beloved Glee Gum is made with a NTFP from the rainforest region of Mexico: chicle! Other nifty NTFPs can be found closer to home. Presenting (drum roll, please)… marvelous, magnificent maple syrup!
Nothing tastes sweeter than maple syrup poured on pancakes or drizzled over French toast. And while you probably know that maple syrup comes from the sap of the maple tree, the actual process from tree to table is pretty neat!
Over a six week period between March and April, seasonal shifts in temperature alternately freeze and thaw the maple tree, causing its sap to flow. Once flowing, the sap can be harvested. The process of making maple syrup is known as “sugaring” with maple producers called “sugarmakers” and a grove of tapped trees referred to as a “sugarbush.” Sounds Willy-Wonka-wonderful, doesn’t it?
It takes forty years for a maple tree to grow large enough to tap for sap. To collect the sap, a small hole is drilled into the trunk of the tree. (Fear not, tree huggers! Careful guidelines are followed so the tree is not harmed.) It takes approximately forty gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. That’s a lot of sap!
Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S., with an estimated two thousand sugarmakers in the state producing a third of the country’s crop — about four hundred and sixty thousand gallons of maple syrup! Vermont maple syrup is produced by boiling the water off the sap to achieve a density of 66.7% sugar. The resultant syrup is essentially organic, with a natural sweetness that needs nothing added!
Sap from the maple tree is used in more than syrup. It can also be made into granulated maple sugar, maple cream, maple fudge, maple sugar cakes, and hard maple sugar. Now that’s one seriously sweet NTFP! Agree?
For a special promotional offer from a super syrup vendor called Pieces of Vermont, you gotta check out the new Glee Newsletter! The bi-monthly bulletin debuts this month, so you can get the latest scoop on upcoming events, take a sneak peek at forthcoming products, find exclusive discounts on all things Glee, and even enter a unique contest to test your green artistry! Sign up today!
And if you’re interested in learning more about NTFPs in general, click here.
See ya later, chums!