Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook
Making maple syrup has long been a tradition in the US and Canada, even before these areas were colonized as it began with the native Americans. Canada produces most of the maple syrup in the world; in the United States, Vermont is the largest producer and New York is the second. Did you know that historically and to this day Maryland is also a producer? Real maple syrup comes in varying shades of ambers, from light to a rich deep brown hue; that of Maryland is pale amber.
After you consume these recipes, read on to see where you can find our local product and read the charming excerpt from Mike’s Maple Camp at the Savage River Lodge.
Master Maple Glaze
No kidding, you’ll want to keep large batches of this penetrating elixir in the ‘frige to slather on grilled or oven-roasted foods to make them shine visually and tastefully. Watch any maple glazed foods on the grill like a hawk as the syrup can burn easily-quickly turning to a charred crust.
- 3-4 pounds chicken pieces, ribs, ham, pork or fish fillets
- 2/3 cup maple syrup
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- white wine vinegar to taste
In a non-reactive deep container, mix together maple syrup, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Taste the mixture and if you prefer more tang, add white wine vinegar to taste. Add the meat or poultry, cover and chill overnight, turning occasionally.
Preheat the grill to medium-high.
Remove the food from the maple marinade and shake off excess. Place on grill rack, turning and basting with the maple glaze so the food cooks evenly on both sides. You will probably need to move from higher heat to a lower heat part of the grill so no charring results.
Maple Syrup Cupcakes
This recipe is inspired by a widely-circulated version, originally in Country Living Magazine. I’ve tweaked it a bit just to add a bit more depth of flavor.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup light-brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and finely chopped
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger; stir in ginger root. Set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar together using a mixer set on medium speed in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, syrup, and vanilla.
Stir in flour mixture by thirds, alternating with the buttermilk. Stir in nuts.
Fill 18 lined muffin cups and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Ice with Maple-Butter Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2/3 cups dark-Brown Sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Beat the butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl with a mixer set on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Continue beating, and add the maple syrup and vanilla. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, increase the speed to high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Chill for 1 hour before using.
Start the day sweet and sticky with an all-you-can-eat stack of buckwheat cakes doused in Garrett County maple syrup. 113 E. Main St., Grantsville, Md., 301-895-5055, www.thecasselman.com
Herrington Manor State Park
At the park’s free Sap to Syrup demonstration March 20-21 learn about the process from start (tree) to finish (breakfast-ready condiment). 222 Herrington Lane, Oakland, Md., 301-334-9180, www.dnr.state.md.us
Steyer Brothers Farm
The Steyer has been producing syrup for more than a century. Taste their heritage by the bottle or jug. 2735 Gorman Rd., Oakland, Md., 301-334-2900
Barton Dame Maple Products
The small business sells pure, organic syrup, produced in Corrigansville, MD. The company also has maple mustard sauces and maple sugar. Check Maryland farmers markets for these products.
The eco-lodge taps its own maple trees for syrup used to flavor such dishes as their creme brulee.
From Mike’s Maple Camp-The grand ritual that has begun to herald the start of spring at the Lodge is the hanging of sap buckets on our sugar maple trees. There may be a few more snowflakes still to come, but once the buckets go up you know old man winter has met his match.
Sap collection typically begins in March and lasts for 3 to 5 weeks depending on nature. Freezing nights and warm days are needed in order to induce sap flows. Trees are tapped once they reach 10 inches in diameter. Of the sap that is collected, roughly 98% of it will be boiled off to make the pure maple syrup. It takes about 40 to 45 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
1600 Mount Aetna Rd., Frostburg, Md., 301-689-3200 www.savageriverlodge.com