By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician
What’s up with all the buckets on the trees? It’s maple syrup time! According to the Ohio Maple Producers Association, maple syrup contributes $5 million to our state’s economy. Only 13 states produce maple syrup and Ohio ranks in the upper half, producing almost 100,000 gallons. The demand for maple syrup is bigger than is currently produced.
The history behind maple syrup boils down to the Indians finding the sap oozing from broken branches. The story goes that the Indians hollowed out logs, filled it with the sap and then threw in hot coals to reduce the syrup.
The Johnson Family in Cable has been making syrup since 1934. Eric Johnson said 2019 has been a good year for maple syrup for the operation. Their family produces, on average, 300 gallons of syrup a year that they market right on site as well as local farmers markets. Yo-yoing winter temperatures actually improve syrup production. Based largely on the temperature fluctuations, syrup season starts around Feb. 15 and goes until the buds and honeybees come (around April 1). It takes 45 to 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Eric uses wood fires to cook down his sweet syrup, which takes longer than other producers who use reverse osmosis.
Pure maple syrup must be grade A and labeled as such to be sold in a retail establishment. All maple syrup is produced with reduction. The syrup recently took on a new grading system based on color.
There are three grades of maple syrup.
- Grade A Golden Delicate
- Grade A Amber Rich
- Grade A Dark Robust
Golden maple syrup has a delicate taste. It is the most popular. Amber maple syrup has a slightly darker color and a richer taste. Consumers like this for its fuller bodied and medium taste. Dark maple syrup has a robust taste than amber and golden syrup. Very dark maple syrup has a very strong taste and is usually used for sugar.
The difference in the colors? It sounds like a mystery to me, but Eric says that color can be affected by: the part of the season the sap is harvested, length of cooking and/or rainfall. Most of Eric’s 2019 syrup has been graded as amber rich. He said the industry encourages the golden delicate grade but customers seem to request darker syrup, whether this is due to comparison to commercial syrups on the market or some other reason is unknown.
Nutritionally speaking maple syrup has a similar carbohydrate content as white/brown sugar with 13 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon. Maple syrup has a few more minerals and antioxidants than other sugars such as manganese and zinc, however it’s still packs plenty of sugar and calories. Don’t get caught up in the latest food trends, enjoy maple syrup in moderation because of taste, flavor and likeability. Maple syrup is a great way to sweeten your waffles, salad dressings, or even cook a hot dog in (which I enjoyed at Johnsons!)
Eat well and Healthy,
Spaghetti Squash with Maple Syrup and Shallots pioneerwoman.com
2 whole Medium Spaghetti Squash
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 whole Shallots, Finely Minced
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
Dash of Salt
Dash of Nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pierce spaghetti squash a few times with a sharp knife. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 1 hour. Cut squash in half. Scoop out and discard seeds and slimy pulp. Scrap out the rest of the squash with a fork. Place in a bowl. Keep warm. In a large skillet, melt butter. Cook shallots over medium heat for 2 minutes or until soft. Reduce heat and add maple syrup. Cook for a minute, then remove from heat. Stir in salt. Pour mixture over squash. Sprinkle on nutmeg and mix together gently. Sever warm. Serves 8.
Maple-Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake foodandwine.com
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
½ c sugar
1 overripe banana, mashed
1 large egg, room temp
1 cup milk, room temp
1 cup flour,
1 Tbsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
¾ c pure maple syrup
½ c light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. bourbon
¼ c finely chopped pecans
Vanilla ice cream
Preheat the oven to 375°. In a deep, 2-quart baking or soufflé dish, melt the butter in the microwave. Whisk in the superfine sugar and banana, mashing until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the egg and milk.
In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk into the baking dish until combined (the batter will be pretty loose).
In a microwave-safe cup, heat the maple syrup, light brown sugar and 1/2 cup of hot water at high power until hot, 1 minute. Add the bourbon. Drizzle the syrup mixture over the batter; it will seep to the bottom. Do not stir. Scatter the pecans on top.
Set the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, until the cake is golden. Let cool for 5 minutes, then scoop into bowls and serve with ice cream. Serves 6
Smokey Maple-Mustard Salmon eatingwell.com
3 Tbsp. whole-grain or Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika or ground chipotle pepper (see Notes)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
⅛ teaspoon salt
4 4-ounce skinless salmon fillets
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.
Combine mustard, maple syrup, paprika (or chipotle), pepper and salt in a small bowl. Place salmon fillets on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the mustard mixture evenly on the salmon. Roast until just cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes.
Notes: Smoked paprika is made from smoke-dried red peppers and adds earthy, smoky flavor. Chipotle peppers are dried, smoked jalapeño peppers. Look for different types of paprika and ground chipotle chile pepper in the spice aisle at some large supermarkets or at tienda.com or penzeys.com. Serves 4.
Roasted Root Vegetables With Balsamic-Maple Glaze cookinglight.com
8 oz. red onions, each cut into 8 wedges with root intact
8 oz. purple sweet potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
8 oz. small multicolored carrots, (including purple), cut on an angle into 2-inch-long pieces, divided
2 Tbsp. cup olive oil, divided
8 oz. turnips, each cut into 8 wedges
8 oz. parsnips, cut on an angle into 2-inch-long pieces
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 ½ tsp.chopped fresh thyme leaves
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, and lightly coat with cooking spray.
Combine onions, purple sweet potatoes, purple carrots, and 1 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl; toss to coat, and arrange in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet. In the same bowl, combine turnips, parsnips, remaining carrots, and remaining 1 tablespoons olive oil, and toss to coat; arrange in a single layer on the other prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle both baking sheets of vegetables evenly with salt and pepper. Bake purple vegetable mixture at 450°F, without stirring, until tender, about 25 minutes. Bake turnip mixture at 450°F, without stirring, until tender and lightly caramelized, 30 to 35 minutes.
While vegetables bake, combine vinegar and syrup in a small saucepan over medium-high. Bring to a boil, without stirring, and cook until mixture is thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. (You should have about 1/2 cup of liquid.) Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature; sauce will thicken to syrupy consistency upon cooling.
Arrange roasted vegetables on a platter, and drizzle with balsamic syrup. Sprinkle with fresh thyme, and serve immediately. Serves 5 (serving size: 1 1/4 c)