Valley Bounty: Maple Syrup

If you’ve driven by almost any wooded patch in New England in the past few weeks, you’ve likely seen plastic tubing and large basins scattered among the trees (or perhaps the slightly more old-school “metal bucket hanging from the trees” approach), telltale signs of maple sugaring in progress. As of the most recent Agricultural Census (2012), Franklin and Hampshire counties are the two largest maple syrup makers in the state, producing a combined 31,981 gallons of maple syrup — more than three quarters of the state’s total maple harvest that year. And since the ratio of gallons of harvested sap to finished syrup is usually around 40:1, that’s well over a million gallons of sap harvested by our neighbors each year, all within a short window of just a couple weeks.

Maple syrup is a staple of desserts and sweet breakfasts for good reason, but it’s uniquely-flavored sweetness can also complement savory dishes well. Try whisking together a cup of maple syrup with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, two or three cloves of minced garlic, and a teaspoon or two of minced ginger. This sweet and tangy sauce makes a great marinade or simmering sauce for pork, chicken, salmon, and even tofu.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)