Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Maple in the County

I know what you're thinking: what does a sweet substance have to do with health and the environment? Easy!

  • Maple syrup is a local food in Ontario - sometimes as local as your neighbour's back yard.
  • It's much healthier than refined sugar when used as a sweetener.
  • It is 100% pure and contains no synthetic additives such as preservatives or colour.
  • Growing sugar maple trees is typically an organic process, with no dependence on fertilizers or pesticides, and it doesn't deplete the quality of the soil or reduce biodiversity.

I'm sure there are other pro-health, environmentally-friendly arguments that could be made, but this is meant to be a pretty short post. I organized a little road trip to Prince Edward County over the weekend to partake in maple products of all kinds. After eating maple-smoked pulled pork sandwiches with cornbread and homemade waffles with maple syrup and berries, we found the pièce de résistance: maple taffy!

For those who don't know, you take maple syrup, which has already been boiled down from maple sap at a ratio of 20:1 (if you're lucky), then boil it down some more to make it more candy-like. Pour some onto snow (in this case "old" snow that was "harvested" back when we still had some, then stored in a freezer until now) in a line pattern with a popsicle stick firmly embedded on one end, wait until it hardens, roll up the taffy with the stick, and consume. Repeat. Repeat again. Repeat one more time for good measure. Smile. No, laugh. Laugh giddily like you're five years old again. Savour the moment, because you won't be experiencing it again until this time next year. Sigh.

If that wasn't enough, what made our trip to Vader's Maple Syrup (no Star Wars jokes please) even more memorable was the maple kettle corn! I've never seen so many kernels popping at once, and it never occurred to me to season popcorn with maple syrup and salt! The result wasn't a sticky, gooey mess, thanks to the professional stirring skills you can see in the image above. The maple flavour permeated every popped kernel without being overwhelming, and I can't wait to try this at home.

With some luck, I'll find time in the near future to bake a loaf of bread using a couple tablespoons of the maple syrup I bought. The recipe will remain a secret for now!

What are some uncommon applications of maple syrup you've experimented with?

Thanks to Diana for snapping these pictures while I was too busy drooling.


  1. Star WARS, Andrea, not Star Wards.

    But hurray for maple syrup! Personally, I have just recently been introduced to the sticky fabulousness of "Maple Syrup Pie"... an application I thought would be overly sweet, but in reality is just about perfect.

    And, I don't know how many people realize this, but you can actually put maple syrup ON PANCAKES! Best. Application. Ever.

  2. Typo corrected.

    Mmm, maple pie is heavenly, but I can't find it anywhere in Ontario. I don't have a recipe for it, either. I will scour the internet and post pictures if I bake maple pie in the near future!