Focused on Mississippi: Syrup Making

Focused on Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – There was a time when people lived a lot closer to the land than we live now, and the calendar was used as much as the clock back then to tell time. You had to make thing we can buy at the super market now, but some people still like the old ways better; the tradition and the taste. That’s the way it is with Lafayette McDavid.

This is a tradition of autumn; syrup making. This used to be a common sight, but not so much now. Lafayette has a couple of ancient mills he uses to squeeze the juice from the cane.

“I got a cane there that’s hundreds of years old. I just been keeping it going,” he stated.

You have to boil off nine gallons of water for every gallon of syrup you wind up with. So after the squeezing is done, the pouring is finished and the boiling starts, things slow down considerably.

Jumping forward a few hours, it’s time for the end of the process. The other modern addition to the process is a hydrometer that measures the amount of water that has been boiled off. An experienced syrup maker can tell you when it’s ready by looking at how it sheets off the strainers when it’s boiled down enough, but the red line on the hydrometer knows for sure.

You can get cane syrup at most of the roadside produce stands and even some grocery stores.


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