Flavors of the Season – Maple
The air is going crisp, the leaves are changing, and Autumn’s spell has fallen over the land … at least if you’re lucky enough to live someplace with four distinct seasons. Either way, seasonal eating is one of the best things to do to make it feel like Fall, no matter what the temperature is outside. Fall favorites include apples, grapes, cranberries, figs, pumpkin, and maple syrup. While I contemplated how to feign a Halloween costume for less than $20 to answer the door for Trick or Treaters this year, my mind kept returning to maple syrup.
Maple syrup is made from the sweet-water sap of certain North American maple trees, mainly the sugar maple, but also the black and red maples. Each time a period of freezing is followed by a period of thawing, sap will flow from any wound in the sapwood, including a taphole, as long as the tree is dormant. The sap contains 1.5 – 3% solids, but does not yet contain the color or flavor of maple syrup. These are imparted as the sap is concentrated by evaporation in open pans. It takes anywhere between 30 to 50 gallons of sap to yield one gallon of syrup, making it a labor intensive crop. It is now produced at scale in Quebec, Vermont, New York and other northern territories and states. Canada is responsible for providing upwards of 80% of the world’s maple syrup.
Archeological evidence shows maple syrup was harvested by the Native Americans of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River regions prior to the arrival of European settlers. Perhaps they knew of its many health benefits in addition to its lovely flavor. Maple syrup contains numerous antioxidants and supplies various vitamins and minerals. It also has a lower score on the glycemic index than refined sugars and honey do, making it a good choice to sweeten any beverage including coffee and tea. And it will never leave a pile of unutilized granules at the bottom of your drink – even if it is iced.
Hailing from New England, my fondest memory of maple syrup was enjoying it drizzled over a scoop of freshly fallen snow. It was a wonderful way to enjoy its rich, smooth taste and kids and adults alike looked forward to this frosty treat each Winter. Since there’s not a flake of snow to be found here yet, I couldn’t help but beginning to imagine maple syrup hugging a stack of buttermilk pancakes or atop a perfectly pressed Belgian waffle.
Maple syrup is also marvelous drizzled over a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream or Greek yogurt, on a fresh fruit salad, and on cinnamon rolls and in hot cereals of all kinds. Less common but no less delicious, maple syrup makes a beautiful flavor addition to meats like ham, fish like salmon, and roasted root vegetables. And last but not least, the addition of maple syrup to a cocktail like an Old Fashioned or a Hot Toddy will impart the drinks with an air of Autumnal authenticity.
All maple syrup is now sold as “Grade A” under which there are 4 color/intensity tiers. The options range from golden to very dark in color and from delicate to strong flavor. Lighter syrup will taste more delicate while darker syrups will be more robust or strong. We offer “Grade A – Amber Dark Robust Taste” maple syrup. It has the deep brown-sugar like flavor that many purists covet. To learn more about maple syrup’s odd naming conventions, and how they’ve changed, read our blog post about the name changes from a few years back. Maple Syrup has an entire day devoted to its celebration: December 17th, but its not too soon to enjoy its rich caramely delights. Mount Hope Wholesale’s private label syrup is available here by the bulk gallon. If your consumption doesn’t demand that much, try our quarts instead. Happy Fall Everyone!