Wednesday, 16 December 2015
National Maple Syrup Day - 17th December
The 17th December is National Maple Syrup Day in the United States and Canada. I for one plan to celebrate the sticky, amber deliciousness on that day and pay homage to the great idea that you start with a colourless liquid from a tree and turn it into an essential item to drape ceremoniously over your Saturday morning pancakes!
I was born and grew up in Vermont in the North Eastern part of New England where the wonders of the elusive maple season never failed to excite. I still remember the last time I entered a sugar house and the smell hits you right between the nostrils and enters your brain to become a memory forever!
I had the pleasure recently of meeting Andre Pollender, an award winning maple syrup producer from Canada.
Andre is a member of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers ,a group that aims to keep Canadian maple syrup production to a certain standard but also moves with the times to promote this natural, healthy and delicious product.
Andre still uses the traditional method of collecting the sap from each of his 1,200 trees by using a metal spike and collecting in metal buckets which will be picked up by traditional horse and sledge. Using a tractor will damage the shallow roots of the maple tree and in 3-4 years that tree will die, not something good for production!
It takes about 40 litres of the colourless, tasteless liquid to make 1 litre of maple syrup following a long boiling period in small wooden buildings. If you are fortunate enough to enter a maple syrup house during syrup production the smell and powerful steam and heat will stay in your memory for ever.
I was able to visit sugar houses as a child and teenager enjoying freshly made syrup poured over fresh white snow which would turn into a hard candy immediately.
But 'hold the front page' Andre told me about a product that he has some up with called Maple Vinegar!
As the elusive sap season progresses the darker the resulting syrup becomes and at the end it is often thought too dark with a slightly different and strong taste. This is often discarded and thought to be too rough for syrup.
Andre hated wasting this syrup and after a long convoluted thought process he came up with the idea of maple vinegar and began the process of inventing it! The vinegar is a natural marriage of sweet maple and acidic vinegar and rises the food it is used with to a new height.
Try imagining a chicken and smoked bacon salad on a base of baby spinach and fresh little lettuce leaves and then pouring an extra virgin olive oil and maple vinegar vinaigrette over the top! Maple heaven if you ask me.
Many thanks to Andre Pollender for spending a lovely couple of hours chatting to me and sharing his passion for one of my favourite ingredients! I hope I am able to visit Andre's sugar shack in the near future!
I was not required to write a positive review of my interview. All opinions are my own. Photos were supplied by Andre and his PR.