This week is the "Maple Breakfast Bag" to celebrate the annual maple sugaring season.

This year's season was quite early, with a majority of sap boiled in February. In our area, the soft maples are already in bud, which means the end is very near. The weather does look favorable for the end of the week, and some guys I talked to this morning are actually going to drill new holes in hopes of getting a second run. Overall, this year's season has been a low volume of sap; if it ends now, the yields will barely be enough to make it worth boiling.

Read below to learn more about "Maple Sugaring."

This week's bag is a celebration of maple. Not only do we feature maple syrup, we have a maple granola, pancake mix, and a new apple cinnamon breakfast sausage.

We are nearing the end of our Summer 2023 Early Bird Signup as well (March 11). If you would like to pay by check, you can bring your check with you to pick-up this week and we'll get the payment entered into your account before the deadline. (If you have already mailed a check, we are checking the mail daily, and will send you a confirmation email once your check has been received.)

Trevor & the FFM Team
Summer Season
Early Bird Registration
Early bird signup is very important to our farmers. Each year, we have to commit to what we will buy, at what price, and when. It's hard to do that without the commitment from our members.

We are currently enrolling for our Summer 2023 Season, and Early Bird pricing is valid thru March 11.

For full details on pricing, payment plans, and pickup locations, please visit our website here.

To Signup:
Option 1: Login or Create an Account and self-register

Option 2: Reply to this email with: First + Last NAME on account, SIZE bag you want [small, large, mini], what FOOD option you want [omnivore, vegetarian, or vegan], and WHERE you want to pick it up [location options here]. We'll help setup your account.
Product Features & Bundles
In honor of the Summer 2023 announcement, we have created the "Early Bird" bundle. For years, we would advertise the start of the season with a chicken...because, ya know, "the early bird gets the worm". So this bundle had to feature a whole chicken. Plus a few other staple items for your freezer. 25% savings! $60 for the bundle.

-- Whole Chicken (~4#)
-- Pork Shoulder Butt Roast (~2.5#)
-- Bacon (1#)
-- Cheddar Jalapeno Brat Burger Pack (4 patties)
-- Ground Beef (1#)
-- Ground Pork (1#)
-- Feta Spinach Poultry Brats (4 links, ~1.2#)

This has become a staple of breakfast at my house -- we call it the Fresh Fork "Mc" Muffin. These savory sausage patties (salt, pepper & sage) are perfect on toasted English Muffins with some scrambled eggs. Top if off with some Pepper Butter or our Farm Ketchup. Sale: 6 patties per 1# package ($7).
fresno chicken
Spicy Maple Marinated Chicken

This is a new recipe for us. Sweet and spicy is a classic combination. In this case, our recipe calls for maple syrup - fresh squeezed from the tree!

Maple syrup is mixed with fresh jalapenos and a tangy, acidic brine we reserved from making candied jalapenos in the fall.

It's tender, spicy, and sweet, all at once. Goes great roasted in the oven, or fired on a grill.

This week we have spicy maple marinated chicken thighs, 2 per package (approx 1#) for $8.50.
Grassfed Beef Brisket

St Patty's Day is next week, and we know beef brisket is a popular option for corning and braising.

This week, beef brisket is $1 off per lb. All are listed on the website for sale. We have over 50 pieces!

Sauerkraut Back in Stock

Our latest batch of kraut is now ripe and we just finished jarring it up. It is listed online and available. This will be the last batch until summer cabbage comes in and we can make more (approx late summer).

Steak Sale
$4 off per lb on porterhouse,
$2 per lb on rib steaks

We've been getting caught up on our beef inventory, and we have a lot of steaks inventoried and listed online for sale.

All 100% grassfed, delicious and healthy.

This week we have a good selection of produce starting to show up. The sun has started to stay out longer, so hoophouse greens are growing again. This week we have spinach.

We also have a good supply of mushrooms.

And lastly, tomatoes, poblanos and jalapenos are all coming from All Seasons Fresh soil grown greenhouse in Big Prairie.
To the left is a photo of the conversion of sap - the sugar water - into syrup. It takes a lot of sap to make maple sugar.
I personally do not collect any maple sap. My property was logged shortly before I bought it and there aren't many maple trees left - just some young ones. But all of the neighbors have plenty and we work with them to collect it, boil it, and jug it.
TYPES OF TREES. Maple trees of course, but not all maples. There are two major categories of maple tree. There are the hard maples - like sugar maple and black maple - and the soft maples - like silver and red maple. It is also important that the tree be mature. Generally a tree 18 inches in diameter is the starting size.
All maples can be tapped, but with different tastes and characteristics. Generally the soft maples grow along fence rows and in wetter areas around here. They are smaller with a more smooth bark and many extensions growing out of the main trunk (kind of looks like a lot of trees started growing at the same place). The silver maple is easy to identify in the summer because the backside of the leaf is silver. The red maple has beautiful red foliage in the fall.
The sap from the soft maples is generally not as sweet and it takes more sap to make a gallon of syrup. Furthermore, the soft maples start to bud earlier. Once the plant starts to bud, the sap turns bitter. Think about kale or lettuce that is going to seed. At that point the tree has taken the sugars and used them to produce leaves that will collect energy from the sun.
The sugar maples tend to be larger and with deeper "furrows" in the bark. These large, mature trees can produce a lot of sap with good sugar. They also produce longer as they don't go to bud as early.
Maple sugaring "technology" has certainly evolved from buckets hanging on trees. The buckets - while certainly more photogenic - have been replaced with vacuum systems and more sanitary plastic bags.
"Bucket" vs Vacuum 
The photo to the right shows a spout used to collect sap with buckets or bags. This is very uncommon today. The first photo at the top of this email shows a more modern vacuum system.

Most maple collection today is done on a vacuum system. There are several advantages:
1) Labor saving. No need to go collect buckets and possibly tear up your woods on a wet day
2) More sap. Read below.
3) Less "infection" to the tree. The tap is essentially an open wound. If using an open tap, there is a chance bacteria could get into the tree, causing the hole to scar over and requiring the operator to drill more holes.
The vacuum system does require that you have a stand of trees close together for collecting. If you have one tree in your lawn, a few around the road, etc, then the bags make more sense.
Around here, generally the guys on vacuum tap a maximum of about 300 trees per vacuum line. An 18 inch hard maple can support 2 taps on the same plane. A general rule of thumb is to look for a big root and go above that on each side of the tree. Those big roots are major arteries for the sap.
One neighbor recently wanted proof. He tapped a few remote trees with bags and the rest with a vacuum system. He collected an average of 11 gallons of sap per tap with the bags (bucket method). With the vacuum method, he averaged 28 gallons of sap. Both saps were considered equal in density and sugar content.
What weather conditions create sap? It's simple. Freezing nights and days above freezing, particularly sunny days. If the temperature stays above freezing for about 5 days, the season tends to end. Once the trees start to bud, the season is definitely over.
Which Trees to Tap and Where?
There is a difference in where the tree is located for how much sap it produces. A big maple out in the open with a big canopy will produce more maple sap than a tree in the forest. It can collect more sun.
Trees also on the north side of a hill will also tend to run longer. And if a tree is tapped on both the north and south side of the tree, the southern tap produces more sap early and the northern tap produces more sap later. It's logical. Early on, the southern tap has more exposure to sun. That side of the tree starts to run sooner and produces more sap than the northern tap. Later in the season, the southern side of the tree will have run its course before the northern side is done.
In terms of how many trees you can find in a good "sugarbush," generally 20 to 30 trees per acre is considered good. If you have 300 trees tapped, its usually a sugarbush of about 10 to 15 acres of woods. If we do a little math, 20 trees per acre, 28 gallons of sap per tree, and approximately a 50:1 conversion of sap to syrup....an acre might produce 10 gallons of syrup with a wholesale value of $40 per gallon - so about $400 per acre.
Does this harm the tree? No, a maple tree will not die from being tapped for sap. The major concern about tapping is scars that it will leave in the wood if the tree is harvested for lumber. Lumber buyers want trees that have not been tapped as they don't want the scars in the wood grain.
What makes the sap dark vs light? Mother nature. Generally the earlier sap is lighter in color and the later sap darker. The darker sap has more maple flavor and is today more prized by consumers
After the sap is collected, it must be reduced to make syrup. This requires an evaporator table - essentially a large, flat pan that allows for increased surface area for the sap to evaporate.
While magazines prefer a wood-fired, open evaporator table for the rustic aesthetic, this isn't the real world.

Most maple evaporating today is a 2 step process:
Step 1: Use reverse osmosis to separate the sugar water from the clean water. Dispose of the "clean" water.
Step 2: Boil the sugar water to create sap.
Our syrup is produced a few miles from my farm at the "sugar shack" of Aden and Barbara Keim. Their evaporator is seen above. It runs off of a steam boiler. The steam is piped, at pressure, through perforated pipes inside the evaporator table. The steam rapidly heats the sap to a rolling boil. A flue collects the steam and vents it outside. You can see the steam rolling out of their sugar shack from a mile away!
As the density of the sap changes, it works its way through a series of channels in the table until it is ready to come out of the spigot. A simple boiler valve is installed at the end and the sap is poured into the jars and inverted for a sanitary seal.

Corn Flour Pancake Mix
Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Links
Maple Syrup
Pork Chops
Maple Raisin Granola


Corn Flour Pancake Mix
Maple Syrup
Maple Raisin Granola
Apple Cinnamon Bread

** The granola is gluten free and no added white sugar. Maple syrup is the only sweetener.