Everyone has their favourite first sign of spring but the end of maple syrup season deserves a place on every Canadian’s list. For the second installment on the Food With Legs Youtube channel I have this video that I shot on our tour of McCully’s Hill Farm (I used their bacon in this recipe) near Stratford, Ontario. We were there at the end of March at the beginning of the season and the problem was that daytime temperatures weren’t warm enough to encourage the sap to run. By this time of year we are at the point where nighttime temperatures no longer fall low enough for the sap to retract back to spile height in the tree and with the warmer daytime temperatures enzymatic action slows, less sugar is produced in the sap, and the tree’s buds break into leaf.
After a delicious, if slightly controversy-filled lunch (I was forced to admit that despite my pedantic objections to the nomenclature they make an excellent lobster slider) at Simple Fish and Chips and an unscheduled visit to my favourite pig farm we were given the chance to taste the certified organic maple syrup from Hoover’s Maple Syrup. Having done shots of olive oil I was an old pro at this sort of routine of sipping delicious liquids which are almost always poured. The Hoovers make some excellent syrup and I learned from the tasting that I prefer the more robust, less-floral, darker medium or amber syrup. I also learned that the syrup’s colour has nothing to do with how long it is cooked for (all syrup is cooked until it is 66% sugar) but rather when in the season the sap was drawn from the tree. The later sap makes darker syrup.
Some of you, I know and hope, still prefer reading to a video so I’ll also include this link to Sarah Hood’s excellent post where she not only covered the (sometimes geeky) details of maple syrup production but also made the obligatory reference to Susannah Moodie. Like Sarah I also enjoyed reading more about maple syrup production in Tim Herd’s Maple Sugar (Storey Publishing, 2010)
If you prefer to learn about maple syrup by drinking it in cocktail form head to tonight’s 86′d Monday at the Drake hosted by the always sweet but rarely sappy Ivy Knight. I’m told (by the poster I just linked to) that as well as maple cocktails there will be a maple bacon battle, the Drake’s maple menu, and attendees are invited to compete in a Best Dressed Hoser contest.