Happy Sweet Spring Desserts

“Nothing is so beautiful as Spring…[w]hat is all this juice and all this joy? A strain of the earth’s SWEET being in the beginning…” – Gerard Manley Hopkins from the poem “Spring”

Spring dessert recipesNothing is more perfect than a slightly sweet, light, ethereal dessert after dining on a plateful of pasta at an old-world Italian restaurant on an early spring evening.

You could say that the Italian dessert “Panna Cotta” is like tasting a bit of spring itself in all of its lightness, sweetness and silky, creamy freshness. A simple pudding-like dessert, Panna Cotta (which literally means “cooked cream”) originated in Northern Italy, where “the earliest recipes mention simmering the cream with fish bones (the collagen would set the cream).”

Panna Cotta is referred to as the “purest of the Italian spoons desserts” and when achieving the proper consistency and texture, should be silky smooth and just firm enough to hold its shape when plated (quotes taken from here).

Below are three variations of Panna Cotta to experiment with, along with two other spring dessert recipes, one for Banana Cake and one for a Lemon Cake. Enjoy!

Panna Cotta (taken from Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times Food Editor)

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. powdered gelatin
Oil
2 & 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 & 1/2 cups whole milk
5 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:
Place water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Stir to distribute, and set aside to soften, 2-3 minutes.

Wipe the insides of 8 (one-half-cup) ramekins with a light coating of neutral oil and set aside. Half-fill a large bowl with ice and add enough water to make an ice bath and set aside.

In small saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Remove from heat and whisk in the softened gelatin and the vanilla.

Set the saucepan in the ice bath (making sure the top of the saucepan is well above the surface of the water) and whisk until the mixture is lukewarm. Rub your fingers together – there should be no grit from undissolved sugar or gelatin.

Ladle mixture into the oiled ramekins and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

About 10 minutes before serving run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the ramekin. Dip the ramekin briefly in a bowl of hot tap water, and then carefully invert onto a serving plate.

Panna cotta recipes

Panna Cotta (adapted from blog.italian-connection.com)

Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
2 heaping tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/7 ounce of unflavored gelatin

Instructions:
Dissolve gelatin in 2 tablespoons water for 2-3 minutes. In medium saucepan heat cream, milk, and sugar and heat gently. Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin and the vanilla extract and stir until thoroughly combined and begins to thicken. Pour into custard cups or ramekins and chill for 3-6 hours.

Panna Cotta (taken from Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)

Ingredients:
3 cups cream
1 package (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar

Instructions:
Put 1 cup cream in a medium saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over it; let sit for 5 minutes. Turn heat to low and cook, stirring, until gelatin dissolves completely.

Add remaining cream and sugar to gelatin mixture and heat gently, just until sugar dissolves; add vanilla and then pour mixture into 4-6 small custard cups. Chill until set, about 4 hours.

Sunny Lemon Cake (adapted from Ann Romney, The Romney Family Table)

Ingredients for the Cake:
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 & 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Finely grated zest of 1 – 2 lemons
4 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1 cup buttermilk

Instructions:
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat the butter on medium-high for 1 – 2 minutes, or until smooth.  Gradually add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 – 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla and lemon oil or zest and continue to beat.  Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, beating well after eat addition and scraping the bowl frequently.  Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the flour.  Mix until the batter is smooth and well blended.

Spread batter into prepared pan and bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove from pan.  Drizzle warm cake with Lemon Glaze.

Ingredients for the Lemon Glaze:
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. rum (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

Instructions:
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, water, rum or vanilla extract, and lemon stirring until the sugar dissolves. Drizzle the warm cake with the glaze. Let cake cool completely before serving.

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (taken from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)

Ingredients for the Cake:
1 stick of butter, room temp.
1 & 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs room temp. to be separated
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 med-size banana)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

easy banana cake recipe

Instructions for the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 9×13 baking dish or two 9-inch round cake pans. Cream the butter and then add sugar and beat until smooth. Separate eggs placing egg whites in bowl to be beat.  Add egg yolks, mashed bananas and buttermilk to butter/sugar mixture and combine thoroughly. Beat egg white in separate bowl until stiff but moist and fold into mixture. Sprinkle chopped nuts on top of batter and gently fold in. Spread evenly in prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

Ingredients for the Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temp.
4 tbsp. butter, room temp.
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions for the Frosting:
Combine cream cheese and butter. Add 1 cup confectioners’ sugar at a time mixing thoroughly, and then stir in the vanilla. Spread on flat 9×13 cake or use to make a layer cake with the 9-inch pans.

See also more light, airy and sweet Spring recipes.

Scrumptious Apple Pies From Scratch

Setting out to make a pie can be a “very scary thing,” writes Deb Perelman in her cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen. As an “obsessive home cook” who suffered FOP (fear of pie), she was determined to master the art of piecrust making. It took several “pie seasons” of experimental distractions until she successfully arrived on top with the perfect piecrust, which as it turns out, is pretty basic and simple!

Below are three recipes, one from Deb Perelman’s described as a “buttery flakey crust” and two recipes that include the crust and filling. Two of the crust recipes use butter and the other from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook uses Crisco shortening, making it a more old-fashioned, but tried and true crust recipe nonetheless.

Easy Apple Pie Recipe

Pie Crust (taken from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:
2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. table salt
16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, VERY cold
1/2 cup ice-cold water

Instructions:
In a large, widish bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into medium-sized pieces and scatter the pieces over the flour. Using your finger tips (or pastry blender) work the butter into the flour mixture until the largest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas.

If the butter has warmed up a bit, place the bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes to quickly cool it down again. Drizzle the water over the flour-butter mixture and use a flexible spatula to gently stir it together until a craggy, uneven mass forms. Knead the dough and any loose bits together, working quickly so as to warm it as little as possible. For a traditional 2-crust pie, divide the dough and wrap it in two separate pieces. Chill it in the fridge at least 1 hour for a halved dough and 2 hours for a full one before rolling it out.

When ready to roll out the dough, place large size wax paper on counter and dust generously with flour and begin to roll out (perfecting the art of rolling out pie dough does take some patience and practice).  The key is to roll out before it becomes too warm and begins to stick and break up into tiny pieces.  Place back in freezer if this begins to happen and try again. When dough has successfully been rolled out gently fold into quarters and transfer to pie pan and gently unfold positioning it perfectly in the pie plate, letting it drape over the edges which you will trim.

Double-Crusted Apple Pie (taken from The Apple Lover’s Cookbook)

Ingredients for the crust:
2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
18 tbsp. (2 & 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
6-8 tbsp. ice water
Milk for brushing over crust

Ingredients for the filling:
3 large firm-tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges*
3 large firm-sweet apples cut the same as above*
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 & 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Instructions:
In large bowl, toss the apples with the sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside.  Roll out dough as described in Smitten Kitchen recipe above.  Place pie filling in pie pan and place rolled out top crust on top of filling and bake at 400-425 degree oven for 10 minutes and then lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 40-50 minutes.

homemade pie crust recipe

Basic Pie Crust for 9-inch Two-crust Pie (taken from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)

Ingredients for crust:
2 & 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup shortening (Crisco)
6-7 tbsp. ice cold water

Instructions for crust:

Combine the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or by hand using a fork to scrape bits of butter into the flour/salt mixture. Combine lightly only until the mixture resembles coarse meal or very tiny peas: its texture will not be uniform but will contain crumbs and small bit and pieces. Sprinkle ice-cold water over the flour mixture, a tablespoon at a time, and mix lightly with a fork, using only enough water so that the pastry will hold together when pressed gently into a ball.

Divide the dough into two balls. Roll the bottom crust out 2 inches larger than the pie pan. Ease it into the pan, fitting it loosely but firmly. Roll out the top crust. Fill the pie generously, then put on the top crust and prick in several place with a fork or cut vents in it. Crimp or flute the edges. Bake as incited in the filling recipe.

Ingredients for the filling:
3/4-1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 & 1/2 tbsp. flour
6 large, firm mix of tart and sweet apples*
2 tbsp. butter

Instructions for filling:
Mix the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour in a large bowl.  Peel, core, and slice apples and toss them in the sugar mixture, coating them well. Pile them into the crust- lined pie pan and dot with the butter.  Roll out the top crust and drape it over the pie.  Crimp edges and cut several vents in the top.  Bake for 10 minutes at 400-425 degree oven and then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake 30-40 minutes more or until crust is nicely browned.

*There are many combinations of apples that are perfect for a pie and everyone has their favorites. My personal favorite for over 30 years of baking are Baldwin, Northern Spy, Golden Delicious, Cortland, Macintosh and Gala (I always use a combination of at least two or three different apple varieties).

Below are some of the more common and easy to find apples:

The best apples for Firm-Tart are:

  • best apples for apple pieNorthern Spy
  • Granny Smith
  • Idared
  • Newtown Pippin
  • Rome Beauty

The best apples for Firm-Sweet are:

  • Baldwin
  • Winter Banana
  • Pink Lady
  • Jonagold
  • Jazz
  • Golden Delicious
  • Honeycrisp

A Family Meal For a Full House

In celebration of the return of Full House in a 13-episode spinoff, Fuller House, scheduled to premiere next year, ATG is sharing some recipes for a delicious, family meal to enjoy together “Around the Table”, along with some fun “Just For Kids” recipes. See also our reflection on children’s poetry.

As a young mother in the beginning stages of learning how to cook, I often turned to The Fannie Farmer Cookbook (1896), which became a trusted source of some of the best, most basic and easy-to-follow recipes I have ever used.

Many of the recipes, including these delicious buttermilk pancakes (and two more below), have become some of our “family favorites”, made time and again at the request of both family and friends alike.

Reflecting on the importance of passing on recipes and cooking skills from generation to generation and “mother to daughter”, Fannie Merritt Farmer (1857-1915) writes in the introduction to her book:

Recipes using pineapples“Today, I am convinced that instinctive feeling for baking is no longer passed on from mother to daughter…[t]here seems to be a lost generation – or two – who weren’t given the experience of learning at mothers’ elbows, and they seem, as a result, so timid when it comes to baking that they take uneasy refuge in packaged dough mixtures or prebaked pie shells…”

She continues:

“Still, I sense there’s an increasing yearning, among young cooks especially, to be more in touch with the wonderful and various grains the earth produced…[m]ost of us want to be able to FULL THE HOUSE with tempting, homey smells of baking; to give children just in from school the real homemade cookie instead of something from a package.”

Below is a recommended family meal (inspired by our travels through Pineapple Country), along with some recipes “Just For Kids”, that we are “passing on” to you in the hope that you will share, eat and enjoy with your very own family.

Waldorf Salad with Mango Dressing (inspired by the Hanalei Gourmet Cafe, Hanalei, Kauai)

Ingredients for the salad:
1 head of Romaine lettuce, or lettuce of your choice
1 Granny Smith or crisp apple of your choice (we used Pink Lady)
1/2-1 cup caramelized walnuts (see below)*
1/2 cup or more, if desired, gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup or so fresh pineapple

Ingredients for the salad dressing:
1 cup of fresh or frozen thawed mango
1/4 cup orange juice
1-2 tsp. good quality honey
1/8 cup rice vinegar
Generous squeeze of fresh lime juice
Pinch of salt and sprinkle of pepper

Instructions:
Puree the above ingredients in blender and refrigerate. When ready to serve salad arrange salad ingredients in a serving bowl or individual plates and use desired amount of dressing. Toss and serve.

*For caramelized walnuts:
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter

Place all in large skillet and on medium heat melt butter and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined and the walnuts are evenly coated. Stir gently until the sugar begins to caramelize. When the sauce thickens and turns brown stir one last time to make sure all of the walnuts are thoroughly coated with the carmel sauce. Turn out onto wax paper and quickly separate the walnut pieces before they clump together. Let cool before using.

Waldorf Salad With Mango by Hanalei Gourmet Cafe, Kauai, Hawaii

Barbeque Chicken Pizza

This Barbeque Chicken Pizza is an adapted version of a homemade pizza we used to make for “TGI-Fridays” while watching some of our favorite family-friendly shows, including Full House.

Ingredients:
1 homemade pizza dough (see below) or your favorite store-bought ready made pizza dough
2 bone-in chicken breasts
1 medium onion
1/2 cup or desired amount fresh pineapple
Approximately 2-3 cups barbecue sauce (we used Sweet Baby Rays Original)
Approximately 3 cups fresh mozzarella (it is easier to slice and then chop rather than shred)
Olive Oil
Butter
Salt and Pepper

Ingredients for Homemade Pizza Dough (taken from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
1 package dry yeast
4 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil

Instructions for pizza:
Dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup of very warm water. After about 10 min. or when bubbles appear add flour, 2 tablespoons oil, the salt and 1 cup of very warm water. Mix thoroughly and turn out onto floured surface and knead for about 10 min. or until nice and smooth. Put into oiled bowl to rise covering with plastic wrap and placing in a warm spot. When the dough has doubled in bulk, about 2 hours, remove from bowl and divide in two. Roll 1/2 of dough out on either pizza pan or cookie sheet and do the same with the other half. Place trays near oven and let rest and rise a little more (about 20 min. or so). Use a fork to lightly poke the dough to keep bubbles from appearing.

Instructions for the chicken:
Place the chicken breast in glass baking dish and pour 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil on top coating both breast. Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper over chicken. Pour about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of barbecue sauce mixed with a teaspoon of water  over the chicken breasts and place 1 tablespoon of butter on top of each breast. Place approximately 3/4 cup of fresh chopped pineapple in baking dish around chicken and bake in 375 oven covered with aluminum foil for the first hour. Be sure to keep the chicken moist by spooning the liquid in the pan over the chicken at least once during the first hour. Remove aluminum and bake for another hour or less or more depending on the size of the breasts, again spooning liquid over chicken. When the chicken is a deep golden brown, use fork or sharp knife to test for readiness. When done remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes or so. Remove chicken from bones and cut into bite sized pieces, place in bowl and set aside.

Instructions for the onions:
Slice onions in thin slices and sauté in a little butter until still slightly crisp, place in bowl and set aside.

To assemble the pizza:
Mix barbecue sauce with a tiny bit of water to make it easier to spread on dough (we used approx. 1 cup of sauce for each pizza; you can use as much or as little as you desire). Evenly distribute bite-sized chicken pieces on pizza, add onions next, pineapple if desired and then the mozzarella. Bake in 400 degree oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Barbecue chicken pizza homemade recipe

And for dessert…

Pineapple Upside Down Cake (taken from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)

“Pineapple upside-down cake became famous as the result of a 1925 cooking contest conducted by the Dole Company, which developed canned pineapple in 1903.”

Ingredients:
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter, for melting
3/4 cup dark-brown sugar (We didn’t have dark and so used light)
7 pineapple rings or 1 & 1/2 – 2 cups of fresh pineapple cut into 1″ pieces
5 & 1/3 tbsp. (1/3 cup) butter, room temp.
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temp.
1 & 2/3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup milk, room temp.

Instructions:
Melt butter and brown sugar in saucepan, stirring constantly until the sugar melts and is thick and bubbly. Pour sugar mixture into 9-inch bake pan, spread evenly and arrange pineapple pieces on top until covered and set aside.

For the cake batter, cream the butter and sugar until smooth and then add eggs and vanilla and continue to mix until thoroughly combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir until the batter is smooth. Spread evenly over the pineapple and bake in 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick test comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes or so and then carefully turn out onto platter fruit side up. Serve with whipped cream and enjoy!

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe from Fannie Farmer

“Just For Kids” Recipes

Heavenly Dirt (a “great party attraction” taken from the Three Rivers Cookbook: Volume III)

Ingredients:
2 8-oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 3/12-oz. boxes vanilla instant pudding
3 cups cold milk
16 oz. cool whip topping, softened in refrigerator
2 tsp. vanilla
1 20-oz. pkg. Oreo cookies
8’’ flower pot
Silk flowers
Gummy worms

Instructions:
Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until creamy and set aside. Mix pudding and milk until thick. Combine with cheese mixture, using a wire whisk. Add cool whip topping and vanilla to pudding-cheese mixture. Crush Oreo cookies, including filling. Using an 8’’ flower pot, put a layer of cookie crumbs, then a layer of cream mixture. Continue layering, ending with a layer of crumbs (to look like dirt)! Add silk flowers and decorate with gummy worms.

Hint: Use half recipe of cream and less than a 16 oz. package of Oreos when using a 6’’ flower pot.

Fruit Juice Shapes (taken from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Family Style Cookbook)

Ingredients:
4 cups pure grape juice, pure white grape juice, cranberry juice cocktail, or other clear juice
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin

Instructions:
In a large bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1 cup of the juice and allow to stand for a few minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 3 cups of juice until just boiling and pour it over the juice and gelatin mixture. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved.

Pour into a 9×9-inch pan and chill until firm, about 3 hours or overnight. Dip the pan briefly into hot water to loosen, cut into square or shapes, and serve.

 

It’s Maple Syrup Season – And We’re Sticking To It!

Pancake cookbookYou may associate the warm, delicious and comforting breakfast food “pancakes” – otherwise known as “Johnnnycakes”, “flapjacks” and “griddle cakes” – as a distinctly American dish, but their origin extends back to the beginning of man with two simple ingredients made useful by natural elements.

“Water and a fistful of pounded grain poured upon a hot rock in the sun must have been the world’s first pancake, the very first bread”, writes Dorian Leigh Parker in the introduction to her book, Pancakes: From Flapjacks to Crepes.

Over the years, upon the discovery of more and more natural resources, variations of what we consider “pancakes” began to form in myriad cultures around the world. In fact, many of the recognizable, popular ethnic foods today are largely considered the “pancake” of their culture.

Take, for instance:

  • The Mexican Tortilla
  • The Chapati and Paratha of India
  • The Scallion and Mandarin Pancakes of China
  • The Warka of Morocco
  • The French Crêpe
  • The Russian Blini

Interestingly, the pancake also developed a religious significance in Christian cultures: in England, on “Shrove Tuesday”* before Lent – a period of fasting and repentance before Easter – there were pancake races and pancake-eating contents. As Dorian Leigh Parker writes:

“Meat was not the only food to be forsworn, but also all of its by-products: eggs, milk, animal fats. Having no refrigeration, everyone made haste to eat up the perishables before Ash Wednesday, and what could be more logical than to eat, drink, and combine eggs, milk, and butter with a little flour and make merry pancakes?” 

Even the great poet and playwright Shakespeare mentions pancakes in his play As You Like It: “of a certain Knight, that swore by his honor they were good pancakes…”

How truly amazing that such simple ingredients – water and grain – lent their way to the creation of such a distinguished food. But, as I’ve come to learn over the years, sometimes all it takes for great cooking and baking is a very good basic, simple recipe with quality ingredients.

The perfect example of this is the “Griddlecakes” recipe found in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

Pancake recipe

I have been serving these pancakes since 1984, after a friend who was studying to become a professional chef in Boston served them to me with a side of homemade cranberry and blueberry sauce. Come to find out, he made them using the recipe in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, one of the best, most basic and easy-to-follow beginner cookbooks.

Since then, I have prepared them time and again for family and friends – and they never disappoint! Below is the recipe – very basic, but consistently reliable and good. Enjoy!

*“Shrove Tuesday” – known in some countries as “Pancake Tuesday” – was a day of indulgence in anticipation of the 40 days of sacrifice before Ash Wednesday, meant to celebrate renewal, family life and hopes for “all things good.” 

Griddlecakes, aka “Pancakes” (recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)

To note: “The amount of milk you use will determine how thick these griddlecakes or pancakes are. Start with the smaller amount suggested and add more if the batter seems too thick.  Try to have the milk room temperature before mixing and take care not to overbeat; a few lumps in the batter will do no harm.  You can make lighter, fluffier griddlecakes by separating the egg, beating the white, and folding it in last.”

The Fannie Farmer CookbookTo note: Fannie Farmer also offers substitute variations: Buttermilk, whole-wheat, oatmeal, buckwheat and apple pancakes.

Ingredients:
1 & 1/2 cups milk
4 tbsp. melted butter
2 eggs, room temp.
2 cups white flour
4 tsp. baking powder
4 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt 

Instructions:
Beat the milk, butter, and egg lightly in mixing bowl.  Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt and add to egg/butter mixture stirring just enough to combine.  Using 1/4 cup measure pour batter on lightly buttered griddle and cook until nicely browned or until desired.

Serve with honey, fresh blueberries or blueberry sauce – and, if you’re anything like us, you won’t be able to resist topping it off and sticking to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.

And it is on that note that we offer some interesting, perhaps less well-known facts, about maple syrup:

  • Maple syrup is only produced in the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada
  • Sap is a tree’s lifeblood; it is made up of 68 percent carbohydrates, calcium, potassium, small amounts of iron and phosphorous and a trace amount of B vitamins
  • As the days grow warmer – above freezing during the day and below freezing during the night – the sap flows up and down with the temperature
  • Sugaring season begins when the up and down movement of sap happens several days in a row; this stretch of days is called a “run”, lasting anywhere from 10 days to 6 weeks in March and April
  • Maple Syrup TreeTo tap a tree without harming it, it must be at least 50 years old with a trunk that is 31 and ½ inches around when measured 4 and ½ feet above ground
  • Each tap hole yields approximately 10 gallons of sap over the season; this amount cooks down to about 1 quart of maple syrup; 70,0000 gallons of sap equals 1,700 gallons of maple syrup
  • All states must use the USDA color standards to grade or classify maple syrup; for example, Vermont Fancy is a Grade A Light Amber, which is considered the best (it is also the most expensive). Following that is Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber, Grade B, etc.
  • Dark Amber has a strong often bitter maple flavor and is sold to commercial bakers and food-processing plants (think Aunt Jemima’s)

For more information, we recommend checking out the University of Vermont’s Maple Syrup website, which includes award-winning recipes, such as:

  • Maple Crème Brûlée French Toast
  • Blueberry-Ricotta Pancakes
  • Maple Pulled Pork
  • Maple Mustard Salmon with Pineapple
  • Fiery Maple Pork Tenderloin
  • Spicy Peanut Coconut Curry Dip