Thursday, March 22, 2012

Maine Maple Sugaring Time

Typical way to collect sap from the trees – metal buckets hung from tree taps
With the recent warm weather around here, it sure feels like we are in the midst of summer and not the end of winter, but we’ll take it! The calendar shyly reminds us it is, in fact, the end of March and with that, Maine Maple Sunday is this weekend.


March generally signifies the midst of maple season in New England; that naturally sugary, deep brown colored syrup with a buttery natural flavor we like to pour and cook with. Not the familiar corn syrup kind with the fake flavoring - so gently presented by an affectionate, apron clad, glass bottled grandma.


This is the real stuff, the stuff that comes seeping out of the trees once the cool nights and warmer days of the end of winter present itself. This year’s maple season started a bit earlier and will end even sooner; a normal season starts in late February and goes through mid April. It takes 60 gallons of sap to make one and half gallons of maple syrup. An average 40 year old tree will yield about 40 quarts of sap per season, enough to make one quart of pure maple syrup. (source: http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/how_maple_syrup_is_made.html)


If you are in Maine or you want to take a nice weekend drive, here is a map of all the sugar shacks open for Maine Maple Sunday. They will have samples, special events and demonstrations going on throughout the day, most will also be open on Saturday.



Once the sap is tapped it must be processed right away so it won’t spoil, this requires syrup makers to work around the clock during maple season.

The evaporator is kept constantly boiling and throws off dense clouds of steam as the sap becomes more and more concentrated.

Once clear, the syrup is packed in sterilized containers for distribution all over the world and of course, sold right at the maple shacks as well.


We love cooking with pure maple syrup, it adds a pleasant sweetness and enhances the flavor of all sorts of grilled foods, especially grilled root vegetables, pork, chicken or duck.
See Portland Press article on Maple Sugar which highlights our Stonewall Kitchen Maine Maple Glaze.
We also love creating a glaze which tastes great on seafood like the shrimp in this recipe.


Melt in Your Mouth Shrimp


ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Stonewall Kitchen Maple Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons Stonewall Kitchen Maine Maple Champagne Mustard
  • 10 slices of bacon
  • 20 large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

directions

  1. Mix Stonewall Kitchen Maple Syrup and Stonewall Kitchen Maine Maple Champagne Mustard in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Cut each bacon slice in half. Wrap each bacon slice around a shrimp. Place shrimp on a cookie sheet and cover each with a spoonful of the syrup/mustard sauce.
  3. Broil on high and cook on both sides until very crispy.
  4. Remove to a platter and serve immediately.

And this great recipe for maple glazed bananas will satisfy your sweet, after dinner cravings:


Caramelized Bananas


ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 small bananas, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1 cup Stonewall Kitchen Maine Maple Syrup
  • 1 Stonewall Kitchen Farmhouse Pancake and Waffle Mix

directions

  1. Prepare pancakes or waffles according to instructions on package.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the brown sugar and stir until the sugar has melted and the mixture begins to simmer.
  4. Cook over low heat for 1 minute, stirring continuously.
  5. Add the banana slices to the pan in a single layer and cook until the bananas begin to caramelize and the brown sugar sauce is bubbling.
  6. Pour the banana sauce over hot pancakes and serve with warm maple syrup on the side.


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