Sunday, March 22, 2009

You Say Syrup, Funk's Grove Says Sirup

No, it's not a typo. About 145 miles southwest of Chicago, not far beyond Bloomington on Old Route 66, Funk's Grove is a 19th-century maple-syrup farm. Actually, it's sirup – with an "i" – which means the product is naturally sweet. When spelled with a "y" it means the makers have added fruit juice to enhance it.

At Funk's they tap and boil the sirup from mid-February to mid-March, depending on the weather. And though it sounds like a sweet job, it takes 50 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of sirup, so it ain't easy. The family sells their wares from a store onsite (free samples!). The sirup is usually available between March and August.

Just down the road is the Sugar Grove Nature Center with trails and birdwatching, and a brooding graveyard and chapel. Together, they make Funk's Grove a surprisingly impressive jaunt.

But if that's too far to drive to sauce your pancakes, try North Park Nature Center by Pulaski and Peterson Rds., which hosts Maple Syrup Fest this weekend.

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