Maple Sugar and Maple Syrup

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      I just contacted your husband about getting more maple syrup. 3 quarts seem to last about 2 years but I wasn't able to cook or bake much this last year. I like the maple syrup best poured on pancakes or in icing. Maple popcorn was also good. I felt guilty about using it in baked beans but that was tasty.


        I think he got your order, Skeptic, thank you. I have a lot of maple recipes; if you are looking for anything specific, just ask. My very favorite is a maple vinaigrette, a very light, not too sweet dressing for spring greens. I'm going to try a new recipe soon for roasted veggies (such as carrots, squash, parsnips) with warm spices (ginger, nutmeg) and maple syrup. You can always replace some of the sugar in scones, muffins, sweet breads, with maple syrup - and remember to brush a little extra syrup on them as soon as they come out of the oven. Maple is so good in most of our traditional fall foods.


          Do you have a recipe for maple fudge? Thats one of my favorite flavors. Also could maple syrup be used in cheese cakes, or would it be better just to pour it on top of a favorite cheesecake and not worry about the extra liquid in the cooking.


            Skeptic, I do not have a recipe for maple fudge, sorry. The only fudge I've ever made was peanut butter, and then only a couple of times.

            I do have a great recipe for maple cheesecake, from the Arlington Inn. I prefer to use a shortbread type crust instead of graham crackers. I'll also try to post the recipe in the recipe section.

            Vermont Maple Syrup Cheesecake from Epicurious
            The Arlington Inn, Arlington VT

            For crust:
            twenty-four 5- by 2 1/2-inch graham crackers
            1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
            1/2 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B; see note, above)

            For filling:
            four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
            1 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
            4 large eggs
            1 tablespoon vanilla
            1/2 cup heavy cream
            and pure maple syrup if desired for drizzling

            Preheat oven to 350° F.

            Make crust:
            In a food processor finely grind graham crackers (you will have about 3 1/2 cups). Melt butter. In a large bowl stir together graham cracker crumbs, butter, and maple syrup and press evenly into bottom and up side of a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap bottom and side of pan with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil to avoid leakage.

            Make filling:
            In bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment or in a food processor beat cream cheese on low speed, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until smooth. Add syrup and eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and cream and beat until just combined.

            Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 1 hour (cake will not be set in center but will set as it chills). Cool cake in pan on a rack. Chill cake, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 4 days.

            Remove side of pan. Serve cheesecake in wedges, drizzled with maple syrup.


              I now have my maple syrup! It was waiting for me when I got back to my father's house in Kentucky. I had a whole week to organize things in Virginia and to see the Dentist and visit friends. Most of the time I spend only a day or sometimes two at my own home and barely have enough time to sort the mail and pay bills. This time my great achievement was to prune the bush back so it didn't block the front door.


                I finally opened up my jars of maple syrup and tried to can it. Its a darker richer flavor than the previous batch. I look forward to eating it. How is the maple syrup season with this warm winter? Do I need to hoard my jars for future years? I lost a bit when it boiled over in the canning process -- I thought I had it on low when I rushed off to recheck the canning directions.

                Mike Nolan

                  That's an interesting question about how warmer winters are affecting the maple syrup.

                  I always thought the darker syrup came later in the season as the weather warmed up, maybe that would happen faster after a warmer winter?


                    The climate changes taking place now are affecting the production of maple syrup. It's very interesting what's happening, and I'll post more about it tomorrow.


                      I learned last year that we have a local maple syrup producer who showed up at the farmers' market again last week. With our on and off weather, they are having a prolific season.


                        Lots of interesting things happening these days with maple sugaring!! Yes, the warming temperatures will definitely affect the production of syrup. Sap flows inside the trees when the nights are below freezing and days above freezing. If we no longer have nighttime below freezing temps in our world, the sap won't run the next day. No sap, no syrup.
                        The sap usually runs for about 6 weeks, mid-February through March. This year, the night temps were below freezing in November, and during the days were above freezing, so the sap ran. Some syrup producers started gathering and boiling then and made hundreds of gallons of syrup by the end of the month. Then the weather changed. We never did have any "winter" until late February, although there were periods of a few days when the temps were right and the sap ran and some producers made more syrup. The question now is will maple trees continue to produce sap from Nov-March? How long might we be able to make syrup? And how does that affect the long-term health of the trees?
                        Many producers did not tap last fall, and waited for more typical weather in March. We just made our first gallons of syrup on March 12.
                        Ponder this: All trees have sap. Birch sap is being made into a drink; it's carbonated, and sold in cans. It does not taste sweet, like maple.


                          I'm not sure of all the chemistry behind the darkening of maple syrup, but I believe it is related to the development of microbes in the sap over time.

                          The taste of pure maple syrup varies depends on environmental factors (terroir). It depends on the soil, genetics of the trees, the weather (throughout the year and during the sugaring season), when the sap is collected during the season, and how it is processed. So the flavor will vary from producer to producer and from year to year, or even day to day in the same sugarhouse. Generally, the first few gatherings of the season will make the lightest syrup. As the season progresses, the syrup becomes darker and stronger. The appearance of leaf buds on the trees signals the end of the season, as the flavor of the syrup becomes stronger and eventually very bitter.

                          The issue of climate change and sugaring is not just the warming temperatures, but the need for alternating warming and freezing that makes the sap run in the trees. It can get so warm out that the sap stops running during the day. Or, sometimes, if it doesn't freeze up again in the night, the sap will run all night.


                            I had to add this link for our favorite maple syrup producers:


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