It Is Now Maple Syrup Season
"People don't think of maple syrup as a fresh crop," says Lee Honck, the city manager of Deep Mountain Maple Syrup, as he hands out samples of candy at the Greenmarket. "But there is a season, spring! And it's right now!"
Glistening gold in the sunshine, the very first bottles of the 2015 syrup line the stall.
"We started tapping at the end of February," says farmer Steph Cantor. "For eight weeks, until the maples start to bud, you're obsessed. Maple syrup gets in your blood. We started sugaring like any other year, but we actually didn't make any syrup till the end of March because the winter stayed quite cold. So it was late, and we're still just about sugaring."
Sugaring, it turns out, is the technical term for boiling sap into syrup, which, at Deep Mountain, happens over a wood-fired stove in the Sugarhouse, nestled next to the maple trees in the Sugarbush.
This year marks the farm's 30th year at the Greenmarket. "When we first started, it was just Fridays. Then Saturdays too. And now we also go to Jackson Heights on a Sunday," says Honck.
Marking this year's crop out for special consideration is the quality of the sap: "Every year is different," says Cantor. "Ideally you want cold nights and mild days for the best syrup, and we certainly got the cold nights last winter. We're not getting a lot of quantity, but what we are getting is great quality. The amber grade, which is medium, has these lovely flavor notes of cream and butter and vanilla. It makes very special marshmallows."
Some eating ideas
- On pancakes, of course
- Swirled into yogurt with a handful of blueberries and pecans
- Mixed with confectioner's sugar to make a glaze for oatmeal cookies
- Drizzled over chicken thighs with a pinch of cayenne pepper, then broiled
- Used in place of simple syrup in a mojito
- Whisked with fish sauce, soy, and garlic and poured into a salmon stir fry, topped with sesame seeds
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