Friday, March 26, 2010

Maine Maple Day

If you read my last post, you might think that I’m obsessed about maple. But at the time, I didn’t realize that March 28th is Maine Maple Day (either that or I didn’t realize that I’m psychic!). In any event, how wonderful that this delicious concoction has its own day of celebration.

Did you know that maple producers in the state of Maine made 395,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2009? If you do the math, that’s nearly 16 million gallons of tree sap boiled down to sweet bliss.

This Sunday, sugar houses around the state will open their doors for tours, workshops, games, demonstrations, and – of course – samples. Stonewall Kitchen friend, L.L.Bean, is hosting its own Maine Maple Sunday at the Freeport location with activities throughout the day. We will be lending a hand by serving up our famous pancakes from 10:00am to 1:00pm at the Home Store. Come on by!

Meanwhile, the Maine Maple Producers Association has a recipe for baked beans that sounds like it might rival my mother’s.

Old-Fashioned Baked Beans

* 6 cups dried beans
* 2/4 to 1 lb. lean salt port or slab bacon on the rind
* 1 tablespoon dry mustard
* 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
* 1/3 cup Maine maple syrup
* 1 medium-sized onion, peeled and stuck with 2 whole cloves

Cover beans with boiling water, soak 1 hour, then drain. (This will remove some gas-causing compounds). Cover beans with cold water, bring to a slow boil and cook until skins split when the beans are blown on. Drain, saving liquid.

Drop the meat into a pan of boiling water, turn off heat and let sit for 5 or 10 minutes to remove excess salt. Drain and cut in half. Put half of the meat, rind down, on the bottom of your bean pot. Combine 1 cup bean liquid with the mustard, syrup, and pepper, then mix it into the parboiled beans.

Transfer this to the bean pot and bury the onion right in the middle. Pour in just enough additional bean-liquid or water to barely show through the top layer of beans. Cap with the remaining meat, set rind side out. Cover and bake 6 to 8 hours in a very slow (250 degree) oven, adding boiling water if necessary to keep beans from drying out. Uncover for last hour so top can get brown and crisp.

This recipe strikes me as being particularly Maine-like, with instructions that include sticking an onion with cloves, blowing on the beans, and burying the onion right in the middle. I will try this recipe and report my results at a later date. For more maple recipes, check out our database. See you in Freeport on Sunday!

P.S. Only a few more days to enter this month’s giveaway for an Herbes de Provence gift basket. If you haven’t already, click here to enter now.

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