Monday, March 31, 2008

Finally, Maple Syrup

No, this photo was NOT taken in December, or January, or even February, it was taken on Saturday on our way to Sugar Moon Farm near Earlstown, Nova Scotia for the first of this year's maple syrup run. Finally!

The people seeing me take this shot couldn't resist telling me that they had quite enough of winter. Frankly, I couldn't agree more except....

...when it's time to make maple taffy on fresh snow. Perhaps it's my Quebec roots, born and raised in the maple syrup producing capital of the world (apparently 75% of the world's supply comes from there), but there is nothing that compares to the flavor as a natural sweetener and nothing that is a real harbinger of Spring than the making of it.

I'll be sharing more of my visit to Sugar Moon Farm, a self-sustaining sugar maple farm on Foodtv's Food for Thought and I'll let you know when to check it out. But for now a flashback and some recipes....

The guided talk at Sugar Moon about how sap is collected and turned into liquid amber (in my opinion, even better than gold) reminded me of the first time I took my daughters to a friend's father's farm where there were maple trees and these friends decided to make their own syrup. By the way...they only did it once! But back to the story.

Their boys were two and four, just like my girls. And we thought it would be a great outing for all of us...as soon as the sap started to run, that is. The kids were so excited, and I admit it...so was I. Every day...same question..."can we go make maple syrup today?" Many phone calls back and forth waiting for the weather to be our friends and hover around zero. That's when the sap runs. Finally, the big day arrived. We bundled up and arrived at the farm. Squealing, gleeful children running ahead, looking for the trees with buckets. Finding them, they'd shout to us "here, here, hurry" and we'd head over, only to find a slow drip.........drip.......drip of sap (I was going to say running, but...more like slow dribbling) into the bucket. At that point, only a very thin layer of sap covered the bottom of some of the pails.

So we made snow angels and built snowmen and the kids kept running back to the trees to see if the buckets were overflowing (ah for the optimism of children) and by 4PM we decided to call it a day and return the next for "real" maple syrup making.

Return we did, the pails still not more than half full, but we heated up the vat my friend's father always used to boil down the sap and turn it into my personal favorite natural sweetener - maple syrup. The biggest challenge for the grownups was keeping little ones from getting too close to the vat. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we had a small batch of thin maple syrup and the ability to pour some on the snow for instant (HAH! I use the term loosely) gratification.

It really is quite a different operation at Sugar Moon Farm these days, as you can see.

video

More about my visit there in the next week or so, but for now, I thought I'd share my own personal favorite recipes. Breakfast Perfection.....


French Toast with Maple Syrup

Lunch or dinner....nothing makes fish tastiest...


Maple Glazed Salmon


Maple Syrup Sweet Potato Wedges

As for dessert....a little drizzle of syrup over your favorite ice cream or crepe or fruit salad...pure heaven.

By the way... I bought a cookbook at Sugar Moon Farm - Maple Syrup Cookbook- no surprise there. Stay tuned for some delicious dishes made with my own jug of this year's maple syrup.

10 comments:

Patsyk said...

I've never had really fresh maple syrup... that must taste incredible. I didn't know Food TV had a blog site, so I am happy you posted the link.

giz said...

One of my very favourite things to do - going to the sugar runs - you're getting me so excited - such a wonderful sign of spring.

Katie B. said...

I've never heard of making maple syrup taffy in the snow - that sounds so magical!

Anali said...

I'd been planning to go get some fresh maple syrup and do a tour here in Massachusetts, but I think that the season may be just about over. There may be a few days left...

Poonam said...

That sounds exciting!

NĂºria said...

Wow Ruth, this is something completely new for me! Never heard about it before... how interesting and your dishes look sooooo apetitosos :D

Johanna said...

Wow that is so amazing to see maple syrup on the snow - blogging sure has given me a new found appreciation for maple syrup

kitchenetta said...

Ruth, I am definitely trying these recipes. I am drooling just looking at the photos!

ChefMichele said...

When I was a little girl, my Grandmother would stand at the stove and mix what I thought was sugar in a large pot. She didnt use a candy thermometer but did it by feel. When the sugar mixture was ready she would call out to my Grandfather to bring in the roasting pan of packed snow. He would then pour this maple colored clearish liquid onto the snow, where it would instantly harden. We would then break up the candy and eat as much as we could, since we only had it when it snowed in NY. I saw Jacques Pepin pour something on snow briefly as I was flipping channels a long time ago, and was never to find it again. I made pate chinois for dinner tonite and at Christmas we have our traditional Tortiere.....I was hoping to find someone who knew about this "Snow candy" as we called it. Your blog came up and I am intrigued. I am hoping you can direct me in some way to finding out what my grandmother may have done. THank you so much for your blog and helping me think about the wonderful memories of my childhood. The Maple taffy and your pics got to me!

Ruth Daniels said...

ChefMichele, the real way to make maple snow taffy, is to start with sap and boil it down until it becomes a syrup. That said I did find this easy way to do it. http://wondertime.go.com/life-at-home/article/snow-candy-recipe.html which is just pouring some warmed and slightly thickened maple syrup over snow or ice Cream. Let me know how it works.