Maple Syrup Recipes

Courtesy of www.mainemapleproducers.com

Downeast Company Coleslaw serves 6 to 8

• 7 cups finely shredded cabbage

• 2 large tart apples, peeled and shredded

• 1 small green pepper, chopped fine

Dressing:

• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar

• 3 or 4 tablespoons Maine maple syrup

• 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt

Whisk together dressing ingredients in the order listed. Stir into salad. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Creamy Maple Cashew Bark

• 1-1/2 cups Maine Maple Syrup

• 1-1/2 cups cashew nuts, lightly toasted (do not use salted nuts)

• 2 or 3 tablespoons butter

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

Butter baking sheet and set aside. Combine maple syrup and nuts in a large, heavy pan and slowly bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring as little as possible, until mixture reads 270 degrees. Stir in butter and remove from heat. Quickly stir in baking soda. Immediately pour onto baking sheet and use the back of the spoon to spread out the candy. Allow to cool, break into pieces and store in airtight tin.

Maple-Mustard Barbecue Sauce

• 2 tablespoons Dijon-style prepared mustard

• 2 tablespoons lemon juice

• 1 garlic clove, crushed through a press

• 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed

• 1/3 cup Maine maple syrup

• 1/3 cup peanut oil or other bland oil

Whisk together all ingredients in the order listed.

Maple Syrup Fun Facts

•Although most sap is obtained from sugar maples, red maples can be tapped as well.

•A maple tree must be about 40 years old to tap.

•A 40-year-old tree yields about 40 quarts of sap.

•It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

•The higher the sugar content, the less sap is needed to make a gallon of syrup.

•A maple tree must be at least 10 inches in diameter to tap.

•Maple syrup is available in different grades: light, medium, dark and extra dark. Light is the most delicate in flavor and is usually made from the first sap flows of the season. Extra dark has the strongest flavor and is less sweet.

Just thinking about the smell of warm maple syrup can make a dry mouth water, a full stomach grumble and a body run for a stack of pancakes to soak up all that sticky sweetness.

This Sunday, Mainers will be able to tantalize their senses and treat their stomachs when many of the area’s sugarhouses open their doors to the public during Maine Maple Sunday. And several of Maine’s maple syrup producers are right here in the Lakes Region.

In this area, maple syrup producers start tapping the trees around the end of February. Many still use buckets to collect the sap, which starts to flow with the right combination of warm days and cold nights.

These days, plastic tubing is often substituted for the buckets, allowing the sap to collect at a central location by gravity. Whether by buckets or by tubing, once the sap is collected, it must be processed quickly to retain best flavor. This is done in a machine called an evaporator, where water is extracted from the sap at just the right temperature.

Last year, Cooper’s Maple Products entertained about 3,000 visitors on Maple Sunday at their Chute Road farm in Windham.

Preparing for all these guests can be a bit daunting. Gay Lynn Cooper has been busy whipping up 100 pounds of maple leaf candy, maple lollipops and maple-coated pecans. The Coopers will be serving samples of maple syrup on vanilla ice cream during the day. They also offer a pancake breakfast, complete with bacon and orange juice or coffee.

Since 1989, the Coopers have been making maple syrup to sell to the public. But Mark’s history with the farm goes back much further. He grew up on the land and, even today, he and his father raise 40 head of beef cattle there.

The Cooper’s livestock isn’t limited to cattle. They also own an ostrich, peacocks and 10 miniature horses – all big hits with the crowds that come to visit. In addition, the couple operates a greenhouse where they grow annual and vegetable seedlings.

But the real draw on Sunday will be the sugarhouse, fragrant and toasty warm from the fire that fuels the evaporator. As guests pile in, they will see the sap being boiled down in the Cooper’s 3 by 10, stainless steel evaporator, which reduces 40 gallons of sap to a single gallon of syrup.

Mark says this maple syrup season hasn’t been one of the best in their 17-year history. An early warm spell in January confused the trees, causing some to bud. Then, just when the time was right to begin tapping, the weather didn’t supply the temperatures needed for optimal conditions – 45-degree days and 25-degree nights.

Other area maple syrup producers express similar problems caused by the weather this season. At Nash Valley Farm, also in Windham, Roberta Morrill says this year will be better than last for them, but the weather conditions were not ideal.

What started as a backyard hobby became a business for Roberta and her husband Richard. This is their sixth year making and selling maple syrup. With fulltime jobs – Roberta works for Unum Provident and Richard for Hall Implement – the couple finds life a little crazy during the six-week maple syrup-making period.

The family also raises beef shorthorn cattle on their farm. What started as a 4H project for their son, Brian Pierce, eight years ago has turned into 9 head of cattle, with 5 new additions expected this spring.

In preparation for the weekend, Roberta will make maple candy, maple lollipops, maple cream and maple cotton candy. She will also make maple-scented jell candles.

The farm will offers its guests complimentary Giffords vanilla ice cream with warm maple syrup and have maple donuts made by Tony’s Donuts available for customers.

Sweet William’s is a sugarhouse in Casco whose welcome sign will be out on Maple Syrup Sunday. Owners Susan and Bill Symonds have been making their maple syrup since 1997.

But Susan says her husband took up the hobby several years before that with a makeshift stove in the back yard. And now that the couple has expanded the operation, Susan calls it “his hobby-out-of-control.”

“It really changes the month of March,” she said. “Our life is centered around maple syrup.”

The activity helps the family enjoy the somewhat unpredictable month.

“When we start, it’s still winter,” Susan said. “When we’re done, it’s spring. Our focus makes the month fun.”

The whole Symonds family, extended family and friends help out. And when their doors open Sunday, Susan will be ready with her maple lollipops, maple butter, maple popcorn, maple baked beans (eight crockpots of them), maple sundaes, fried dough dipped in maple syrup and maple cotton candy.

Although they skipped Maple Syrup Sunday last year because it fell on Easter, they had 1,200 visitors two years ago.

“It’s so exciting to see how much enjoyment people get from visiting,” said Susan. “I’m thrilled so many people can come.”

The farm boasts 2,000 taps, 400 collected in buckets and the rest with tubing. Their goal is 400 gallons of maple syrup a year but so far, they’re only at 125.

For all of these families who welcome guests to their sugarhouses, the experience of making maple syrup is one of hard work but one of great enjoyment. The people they meet and the satisfaction of creating a delicious product encourage them to continue.

And they like to teach people how real maple syrup is made and how it really tastes.

“It’s an education for the community,” said Roberta. “Come to the country, come to the farm, recognize that syrup doesn’t come from Aunt Jemima’s bottle.”

Mark and Gay Lynn Cooper, of Chute Road in Windham, stand in the sugarhouse next to their wood-fired evaporator. This weekend, Cooper


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