Annmarie Fertoli, Associate Producer, WNYC News
Annmarie Fertoli is an Associate Producer at WNYC, working with the afternoon news team to produce All Things Considered.
Harvesting time for maple syrup is drawing to an end, and you can be sure New York producers are out tapping their trees when the weather’s right. Helen Thomas, executive director of the New York State Maple Producer’s Association, said this season ran slightly longer than usual, due to a cold March.
“We need to have days that are above freezing, but an optimum temperature is around 40 degrees during the daytime,” Thomas explains. “The tree recognizes that it’s warm enough and time to get going when those daytime temperatures reach 40 degrees. At night the tree will keep running if it’s above freezing.” She said 25 degrees is optimal temperature at night, to stop the flowing overnight.
Once the sap’s collected, its sugar content is boosted. “Sap is about 2 percent sugar concentration, as it comes out of the tree,” Thomas said. “We have to take out enough water to turn it to 67 percent sugar concentration.” That’s done through a process called reverse osmosis, and by evaporating the water.
You may be surprised to learn Thomas doesn’t use syrup for pancakes or waffles all that much. She more commonly uses it as a glaze for her vegetables. She also has a handy converter that allows her to substitute maple syrup for other sweeteners, like sugar, in most recipes.
Try out Thomas’ converter, and some of her recipes, below.
(Photo Courtesy New York State Maple Producer's Association)
Maple Conversion Guidelines
Courtesy New York State Maple Producer's Association
Pure Maple Syrup is a natural sugar made by the evaporation of the sap of several species of maple trees. The combination of sugar, black, soft or red maples and a climate unique to eastern North American allows for the early spring harvest of this all-natural delicious sweetener.
The influence of the maple flavor on the recipe is most closely related to the color of the syrup used. The maple flavor is more pronounced and robust in darker syrups. The flavor of granulated maple sugar is influenced greatly by the grade (light through extra dark) of syrup used it its production.
Maple Fruit Dip
By Helen Thomas
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup granulated maple sugar
2 tablespoons extra dark maple syrup
Directions: Soften cream cheese at room temperature. Fold in other ingredients. Enjoy on fruit slices, graham cracker pieces, etc.
Maple Soy Glaze
Courtesy New York State Maple Producer’s Association
For chicken, pork tenderloin or chops, scallops, salmon
2 cups pure New York State Maple Syrup
¼ cup light soy sauce
1 cup water
2 inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
3 whole cloves garlic
4 stars star anise
2 tablespoons whole coriander
Directions: Add all ingredients to sauce pan and simmer 20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. In the meantime, pan sear the meat. Transfer the meat to an uncovered roasting pan, drizzle with glaze, and roast at appropriate temperature until done, glazing every 5 minutes or so.