He knew beyond knocking on the wood of his log cabin door that his French neighbor Lamont was a witch. He debated what to do about it as he boiled the sap waiting for it to sugar. Lamont was bad business; Mr. Tiffany knew that far beyond the shadow of the Lake Erie horizon. According to a memoir by Mrs. They considered him a harmless, community character, who added color and interest to their hard-working lives. Everyone liked Old Stannystone except Lamont. Lamont scowled so fiercely that his neighbors believed that he could and did keep their butter from coming, and their cows from giving milk.
He bewitched the rifles of hunters so that even though the woods teemed with game, they never hit their targets. He bewitched their sap from turning into maple sugar. Foret wrote that Lamont savored the fact that his neighbors believed he had supernatural powers. Throwing more sticks of wood on the fire, Mr. Tiffany stirred the sap more vigorously. He inhaled the steamy fragrance of the boiling sap, expecting it to grain into sugar at any minute.
The sap stubbornly remained maple sap instead of hardening into maple sugar. Tiffany knew as surely as his trees were sugar maples that Lamont had bewitched his sap. Just a week ago Lamont had asked him for some maple syrup and Mr.
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Tiffany had given him a half gallon. Yesterday, Lamont had asked Mr. Tiffany for more maple syrup and received a quart from Mr. This morning, as Mr.
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Tiffany built his sugaring fire, Lamont had appeared and asked for more syrup. This time, Mr. Tiffany had refused to give up any more of his maple syrup. Fancying himself gifted with supernatural powers of his own, Mr. In Mrs. In common with his neighbors, Mr. Tiffany believed that to effectively punish a witch, the bewitched object should be burned and if the witch could be separated from the burned object, the witch would be destroyed as well.
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Tiffany built a huge fire under his kettles and waited for his syrup to burn. He opened his eyes after he had rubbed them because the smoke stung them, and he saw Lamont standing in front of a smoking kettle. Tiffany continued to pile wood on his fires, putting a heap of live coals in each kettle to be certain that the sap burned. The sap in all of the kettles burned to charred globs and he rejoiced that the witch soon would be gone forever.
Lamont finally slunk away, still writhing and moaning.
After he watched Lamont disappear into the woods, Mr. Tiffany cleaned his sap kettles thoroughly and started making maple sugar all over again. He hung his buckets on the sugar maples and while the sap collected, he ventured into the woods searching for Lamont. And to add to his anger and bewilderment, Mr. Tiffany caught a glimpse of Lamont stalking him from behind his sugar maple trees.
One of Mr. Tiffany told him about Lamont and his bewitched maple sugar. Instead of sympathizing with him and the failure of his counter spell, Mr. Old Lamont is having a great laugh at your expense and you might as well know the truth.
Not content with casting a winning spell on Mr. Tiffany, Lamont later lured Old Stannystone on a hunting trip. The two were last seen disappearing into a grove of sugar maple trees growing on the banks of the Grand River. Tiffany and his neighbors later heard that Lamont had gotten Old Stannystone intoxicated with firewater and murdered him.
They never saw Old Stannystone or Lamont again, but at least the witch was gone!
Did the magic of maple sugar story really appear and disappear with Lamont and Old Stannystone, his murder victim? The story of maple sugar goes as far back as the coming of the white man to North America. When Europeans and Native Americas first encountered each other, maple sugar sweetened their interactions. Native Americans taught white people how to boil down sap and make maple sugar, one of their most important foods.
Native American legends about their discovery of maple sap are as numerous as grains of maple sugar. One version of the of the sap discovery story says that a tribal chief threw a tomahawk at a tree and collected the sap from the cut. His wife boiled venison in the sap and sugar maples were forever marked. Another version of the legend has it that Native Americans stumbled on sap running from a broken maple branch, test tasted it, and brought it into their diets.
To tap the sap, Native Americans cut a V-shaped gash in a tree with a sharp stone or ax, and often collected the sap in hollowed out three-foot logs of basswood or white pine. Others used birch bark vessels with inner bark sewed with basswood fibers and waterproofed with pitch from boiling Jack pine cones. Other Native American tribes caught maple sap in clay bowls and boiled it until the water in it evaporated. This boiling left hard blocks of maple sugar that they carried with them when they traveled. A scarcity of salt motivated Native Americans to season almost all of their cooking especially meat, with maple sugar instead of salt.
They soured maple sap with vinegar, allowing it to ferment into an alcoholic drink, and they created a mixed drink of maple sap combined with sap from box elder, silver maple, yellow and black birch and shag bark hickory. They cooked venison in vinegar and sweetened it with maple sugar. Native American children poured thick maple syrup on snow to make candy and greased their hands to pull it into taffy. From the 17 th Century into the 21 st Century enterprising farmers and other maple sugar lovers have tapped sugar maple trees to produce maple syrup and other maple sap delicacies.
Utilizing maple sap involved drilling small holes in sugar maple trees during the open weather window between winter and spring, drilling on days when the temperature hovered around 40 degrees after a night of below freezing temperatures.
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Ohio farmers called their maple tree groves sugar bushes and hung buckets under drilled holes. Every few days, depending on how fast the sap ran out of the trees, the farmers emptied their buckets into larger containers or tanks and hauled the sap to a sugar house, usually built in the woods. The magic of maple sugar took and still takes place in the sugar houses. Since maple sap is about 98 percent water, it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.
Sugar makers boiled off most of the water over a wood fire until only a brown sweet syrup remained and the more adventurous continued boiling the sap further until it turned into crystallized sugar.