At Caramelize Life, we keep our food as local as possible. But we also like to mix it up by visiting food experts of all kinds. After all, we can’t all grow everything~all the time. There are no sugar maples in the North Cascades, so we travel this week to upstate New York where the sap has been running sweet.
Mike Gray, manager at the family run South Meadow Farm Maple Sugarworks, says “I found my calling when I met the sugar maker’s daughter.”
High in the Adirondack forests, near Lake Placid New York, Mike is now responsible for tapping 10,000 plus sugar maples each spring for refining into maple syrup.
Miles upon miles of sap lines wind round over ten thousand sugar maples, bringing us the liquid gold that is true maple syrup.
Sugaring is a strong tradition in my husband’s Vermont family of tappers, and Mike is one of my husbands greatest friends, so he was willing to share his sweet secrets of success with Caramelize Life.
First, a word about the quality of authentic maple syrup~this stuff is liquid gold. For those of you who have not partaken, if you drizzle quality, authentic maple syrup over your crepe or waffle, we guarantee that you will never go back to imitations.
It is so highly prized in our family that my husband’s twin brother (who has 20 acres of sugar maples and has constructed his own sugar house) ships us syrup across the country each season. This is not a cheap item to produce and even less affordable to ship~but is it worth it?~Oh yes.
I talked with Mike in a brief respite he had this week after tapping trees 24/7.
Tapping usually begins around mid February, before the typical freeze-thaw cycles of late winter and early spring. Sap begins flowing once daytime temperatures reach above freezing and the flow continues until the end of March or about now.
Syrup Pan: the sap in this pan is just about ready to call itself MAPLE SYRUP!
Many folks wonder what the difference truly is between the grades and shades of maple syrup. South Meadow Farm Maple Sugarworks was generous enough to share their industry standards and have made this often confusing categorization totally easy to understand.
The Maple Syrup Quality Grade Breakdown:
GRADE A LIGHT AMBER – a very light amber color syrup with mild maple taste. It is preferred by a few who wish only a very delicate flavor.
GRADE A MEDIUM AMBER – a medium amber color with moderate maple flavor. The most popular syrup for table use. Recommended for gift giving.
GRADE A DARK AMBER – a dark amber color with the strongest maple flavor of the table grades. Good for both table use and cooking.
GRADE B – a very dark color and a very strong maple flavor. It’s great for cooking.
Syrup of all grades, maple candy and more grace the shelves on location at South Meadow Farms.
To order this prized syrup for cooking, go to South Meadow Farms online: South Meadow Farm Maple Sugarworks
My husband’s family has also tapped maple syrup and farmed corn and dairy cows for generations in Vermont~to order online, go to PERCY FARMS.
When my partner Rachelle wants excellent baked goods, she turns to her super talented 12 year old daughter Hannah. Hannah’s Bakery,
Chocolate et Crème, shares this week’s recipe. Thanks Hannah!
Cinnamon Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream Icing
110g butter at room tempter
225g brown sugar
2 large eggs separated
275g flour sifted
120ml milk at room tempter
1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 T. Cinnamon
(add more cinnamon if desired to taste)
1. Preheat oven 350F
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter until pale and smooth, about 3-5 minutes.
3. Add egg yolks one at a time and mix well after each addition.
4. Measure out flour in a large bowl and measure milk and vanilla in a separate jar or jug.
5. Alternate adding flour and milk to the butter sugar mixture and repeat until all has been added; stir in cinnamon.
6. Gently fold in the egg whites (this will make your cupcakes light and fluffy).
7. Scoop batter into muffin cups until 3/4 full; bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Yield: 16 standard size cupcakes or 32 minis
Maple Buttercream Icing
150g butter at room temperature
135g maple syrup
435g icing sugar
1. Beat butter and maple syrup till smooth; slowly add powdered sugar and stir untill combined.
2. Buttercream can be stored in an air tight container at room temp for up to three days. Beat before reusing.
Yield: Ices 10 normal size cupcakes
Love from our Kitchen to yours! Georgina @ Caramelize Life
We recommend these additional Maple Syrup Recipes:
GOURMET RECIPES FOR ONE