It’s a rainy Sunday here in Williamsburg and Earth Day in McCarren Park has been postponed until next Sunday (May2). Here on the Southside, we were up early but in no mood to venture outside into the wet streets. (Not to mention that our favorite brunches in the hood don’t start until 11am at the earliest…) Well, good thing we too have kitchen skills. Have to say, not much is better than homemade brunch featuring Yo’s secret recipe for the fluffiest pancakes ever topped with Maple Syrup. Usually associated with Vermont or Canada, Maple Syrup is also a product of New York State. However, local maple syrup can be pretty difficult to find in the City. Our local bodega carries organic syrup but its from a factory in Vermont. Thanks to one of our fab members, we have been hooked up with the fine people at Circle C Maple Farm and now there is a plethora of New York Maple Syrup to be found on the Southside.
The Maple Share isn’t really a “share” in the traditional sense of the word. There will not be weekly deliveries of Maple Syrup since the season for Maple Syrup comes once a year (and is usually the first sign of Spring). Our farmers will be delivering the syrup the first week of our 2010 season and members can pick it up at either the first or second distribution. The idea is to buy up your year’s supply of syrup and reap the sweet yumminess of NY maple all year long. Not just for pancakes, Maple Syrup can work as an essential ingredient for many savory meals and sweet treats. Everything from a sugar substitute to a flavoring for a craft beer or vinagrette, Maple Syrup is all over the place.
This mild Spring the weather has been great for us city folk, but it has been pretty lame for the Maple harvesters. Early buds are nice for our streets, but budding trees mean the end of maple season. This year’s end has arrived about 4 to 6 weeks early this year, seriously cutting the harvest short. Here are some good articles about the situation [via our maple Farmers twitter feed]:
- Maple Syrup Producers All tapped Out
- Warm weather threatens Central New York maple syrup production
- Warm weather creates sticky situation for maple syrup farmers
This particular quote stuck with me. “Everything has to do with the weather, just like in any other kind of agriculture,” Pete added. “You can’t control the weather, and that’s the whole trick of farming.” I have been a member of a CSA for 8 years now, having my eating habits dictated by the yields of the field. Bouncing from years of early spinach and bountiful tomatoes to ones when the weather didn’t cooperate with my favorite recipes. Our maple farmers have been making syrup for their family for years now. 2010 is the first time that they had sold outside the family, thinking Circle C was ready to produce more and hook up with some NYC CSAs. However, Mother Nature was not quite cooperative this Spring, as far as maple sap is concerned. The first sugaring came in early March with a steady flow of sap. But then it got too warm; Most NE maple syrup producers had a short season. In Central New York it was over by April 9th. Circle C came in with a grand total of 33 gallons of syrup this season. They had 2 more sugaring events on their calendar. According to the newspaper, Maple News, a maple producer in Vermont who typically produces 300 gallons a year, was only able to produce 60 gallons.
For our farmers this translated into a lot of $$ put into preparing for a big season, only to barely harvest a fraction of the expectation. In preparation Joe @ Circle C had hand built a new, larger evaporator for the season. He and his wife, with their snowshoes tied, tapped 725 trees in two feet of snow; 525 more than last year! At the end, they had three more holding tanks waiting to be used, each waiting for 250 gallons of sap.
This year they kept the fire going with all wood and no oil. Unfortunately a pan was burnt during the very last sugaring as the fire got too hot. Despite a crazy sugaring season, Joe & Cathy are already planning for next year and are off to get more supplies and meeting with other producers soon at the 44th annual Vermont Maple Festival.
For those of you who are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, locally harvested and produced Maple syrup is a great way to reduce your consumption of non-local sugarcane based products. Maple can replace sugar in lots of recipes and can make a real impact in your footprint size. Maple syrup could be utilized more in our local diets and menus. Check out some yummy ways to cook with Maple Syrup.
- A serious dessert. Panna Cotta w/ Maple Gelee
- Grill it up with Maple. Seared Soy-Maple Ahi Tuna w/ Savory Polenta
- Rock out a bbq sauce with all those MimoMex peppers. Roasted Pepper & Maple BBQ Sauce
- Maple helps bind the Scotch Egg
- Saute green beans in maple syrup
- Toss seasonal salads w/ a maple vinagrette. Arugula & Pear Salad w/ Maple Vinagrette
- Maple Wheat Beer
- The Maple Leaf Cocktail
- Maple plays a major role in this jam inspired, sweet risotto. “Easy Like Sunday Morning” Risotto
- A Canadian tradition. Maple Syrup Pie
Craving cooking with maple yet…
Support our local producers by ordering some Maple Syrup through the Southside CSA. Details about prices and sizes available on the FARMs page.