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Published: Sunday, 1/12/2014 - Updated: 10 months ago

Demand for Ohio's maple products is greater than state can produce

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
About 100,000 gallons of maple syrup are produced each year by Ohio's 900 producers. About 100,000 gallons of maple syrup are produced each year by Ohio's 900 producers.
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When you pour it over pancakes, maple syrup (the real stuff) is enough of a taste distraction to keep you from pondering, hmm, what about those production regulations.

Producers in the maple syrup-making business, however, take note of things such as grading systems, food safety regulations, and mandatory registration processes.

North America is the only place in the world where maple syrup is produced. In the United States there are 12 maple producing states and each year Ohio is ranked 4th or 5th in maple production, according to the Ohio Maple Producers Association.

The maple industry, including producers in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, contributes $5 million to the state's economy each year. In 1840 Ohio was the largest maple producing state, as recorded by the U.S. Agricultural Census.

Some additional facts about Ohio maple, from the state maple producers group:

About 100,000 gallons are produced each year by 900 producers.

Demand for maple products is greater than the state's production.

Ohio's maple syrup is a “Super Food” that has many health benefits naturally provided by antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.

Maple syrup production is one of the few agricultural activities not brought to the Americas by European settlers. Native Americans are widely recognized as the first to discover the sweet stuff dripping from broken branches or cuts in the bark. The sweet sap was boiled down in hollowed out logs by placing hot rocks into the sugary solution.

Hot rocks and hollowed logs? Today, producers pay close attention to rules and regulations related to the making of maple syrup.

A new international grading system for maple syrup and the Food and Drug Administration’s new food safety requirements for maple syrup producers will be two of the featured topics at the 2014 Ohio Maple Days. Workshops are scheduled for Jan. 23 in Morrow County, Jan. 24 for Wayne and Holmes counties, and Jan. 25 in Geauga County. The topics will be the same at each location.

“The laws and regulations to produce any type of food are changing, and maple products are no different,” said organizer Gary Graham, a specialist and educator with Ohio State University Extension, in a press release. “There’s a mandatory registration process with the FDA, and the grades for maple syrup are changing internationally and nationally. Participants will learn all about these changes and will go home with materials to help them bring their operations into compliance.”

OSU Extension is the statewide outreach arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The workshops are timed to help producers get ready for the coming season. Both hobby and commercial producers are welcome.

Workshop locations, dates, and times are:

Jan. 23, Morrow County, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Lutheran Memorial Camp, 2790 State Rt. 61, near Fulton.

Jan. 24, Wayne and Holmes counties, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Mennonite Christian Assembly Church, 10664 Fryburg Rd. near Fredericksburg.

Jan. 25, Geauga County, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Joe J.S. Miller’s Window Shop, 15020 Shedd Rd., Burton.

Topics include the FDA’s Food Safety and Modernization Act and how to comply with new regulations and how to identify and prevent off flavors.

Also to be discussed: the International Maple Syrup Institute’s new grading system that starts with the 2014 season and will be phased in over the next three years.

On a sweet note, another topic will provide details on how to enter a maple syrup and maple confections contest.

Too, participants will hear discussions about Whether voluntary or mandatory food safety inspection is better for an operation, and how to use and take care of a hydrometer for testing maple syrup.

Speakers include Henry Marckres, chief, Consumer Protection, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, who is a maple specialist for Vermont and the North American maple industry; Dan Milo, food safety supervisor, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Food Safety, who is a hobby maple producer himself and has been working with the new food safety regulations, and Mr. Graham, who coordinates Ohio State’s Ohio Maple Program and is the OSU Extension specialist for Ohio’s maple syrup industry.

Activities include presentations by guest speakers, a trade show, reports from OSU Extension and the Ohio Maple Producers Association, testing of hydrometers and Vermont Temporary Maple Syrup Grading Kits (participants are encouraged to bring hydrometers and kits for testing for a small fee), and a session called “Maple Nuggets” for sharing questions, ideas. and information.

Pre-registration, which includes lunch, costs $30 and is due by Monday. Payment at the door is $35 and doesn’t include lunch.

Rescue mission

Cooking Channel highlights for the coming week include Restaurant Redemption with a local twist.

Here’s a summary of Flame Asian Tapas, premiering at 8 p.m. Tuesday: Don, Bryan, and Li opened Flame Asian Tapas in Rossford only six months ago, but they are already in danger of closing. Ching must streamline their unique restaurant concept in order to turn their business around.

She swaps their existing sub-parflaming dishes with easy to share and easy to prepare Asian tapas with a focus on the owners’ Korean heritage. With their lack of restaurant experience will Ching be able to teach these three old college buddies all they need to know to pull their restaurant out of the red?

Food for thought

Locally, where winter's white-gloved fist has pummeled the area's midsection a time or two in recent weeks, kindness helped clear driveways and sidewalks at the homes of older residents. Might we suggest checking to make sure your older friends, relatives, and neighbors have enough food in their fridges and cupboards during such snowstorms, meaning make sure they have food for their meals. Offer, if you can, to take a meal or two to older residents who would appreciate the opportunity to stay indoors, rather than go to the grocery store, when snow drifts deep and ice coats sidewalks. Falls are the number one cause of injury-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths among adults age 65 and older, according to the Ohio Department on Aging.

Velveeta alert

Kraft is creating quite a stir, days within kick-off of the Super Bowl, as reports swirl as thick as a cheese dip that there is, or there could be, or there will be, a shortage of Velveeta.

The “sure, right” among us might question the timing of such a much-discussed shortage, considering the thousands of cooks who were planning to purchase chunks of the — hang on a minute, have to check the what's-in-it label — product.

Locally, Velveeta might just be on the shelves because many area residents were holed up at home for at least three days as a result of snow emergencies that banned travel by most people.

Or, perhaps shelves already were emptied, and remained that way, after locusts, and yes I do mean Snoledo shoppers, swarmed store shelves on the Saturday and Sunday before the heavy snow, wicked winds, and frigid temps.

Don't fret. No matter which way you slice it, we’ll take a stab at getting the official word on the shortage details and share the tasty, newsy morsels.

Send items for Morsels to food@theblade.com



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