Hi everyone. It’s Kelly’s husband here with a sweet book review. My parents are from upstate New York, so I was raised with a taste for maple syrup. We never used that “maple flavored”corn syrup stuff on our pancakes, and we always preferred maple candy to anything Hershey’s makes. So, I was very interested to receive a review copy of this book from Storey Publishing. I ended up giving that copy to my mom for Christmas, and I bought another one for myself. This was two years ago. Now that late winter’s maple sugaring time has returned I thought I’d finally write a review. Maple Sugar by Tim Herd is a historical, botanical, do-it-yourself, cookbook in one well-designed package.
|I love this old wood type design.|
As a book designer myself I have to talk about the look of this book first. The design is really sharp. I was immediately impressed that the cover and chapters feature titles set in wood type. As this form of printing was popular in the nineteenth century, wood type’s use here compliments the long history of maple sugaring. What makes this design choice even more appropriate is the fact that these old printing blocks were usually made of maple wood. (Check out the website for the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum) The book is full color throughout, it has lots of photos, and the cover’s French flaps (folded like a dustjacket) make the book a little more special than the standard paperback.
|There are lots of vintage maple syrup ads and packaging from the author’s collection.|
The book starts with a history of maple syrup, discussing the Native Americans, the colonists, and the progression of preparation techniques up to present day. Chapters 3 and 4 describe the varieties of maple trees, their biology, life cycle, and the sweet sap they produce. The process of commercial maple syrup production is detailed in chapter 5, while chapter 6 offers advice on how to tap, produce, and package your own.
|Includes botany lessons for seven different maple trees.|
|Lots of color photos.|
The last chapter talks about how maple syrup can be used in cooking. There are twenty four recipes ranging from baked goods to meat dishes to desserts. Not surprisingly, the bread, muffins, and biscuits use wheat flour. But most of the other recipes could easily be made gluten-free.