Cold nights, warmer days — it’s maple syrup time, and my neighbors are tapping trees and lugging buckets of sap to their woodstoves or outdoor fires to boil it down. There are just eight houses on our lane, and fires are blazing outside four of them. I’d tap our sugar maples, too, but as you have to boil down about 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, condensing it on our gas stove would cost a small fortune. Easier to let our friends next door give us a pint or two. And I hope they’re reading this.
Or I could buy some of the high-quality stuff from the region’s most prolific producer, Crown Maple Syrup in Dutchess County, which modestly tags its product, “Quite possibly the purest maple syrup on earth.” Unlike my neighbors, who do it the old-fashioned way amid clouds of wood smoke, Crown makes its syrup using state-of-the-art, reverse-osmosis to reduce the water content, which eliminates any bitterness. The results, in three shades of amber, have been met with considerable enthusiasm, and incorporated into the menus of swanky restaurants around the country. You can read more about it here.
I love maple-glazed root vegetables, and my favorite bread pudding is this whole-wheat version sweetened with maple syrup. Avoid the fake stuff made of high fructose corn syrup and chemical add-ons, or the cheaper varieties, which are cut with corn syrup. Pure maple syrup costs a little more, but it’s a completely natural food, and therefore you can eat as much as you like without ill effects. That’s my theory, anyway.
Click on the recipes below for a couple of simple uses: