HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF MAPLE SYRUP SEASON
Maple syrup season is a symbol of the changing of the seasons and all things Canadian. It only happens when temperatures are above zero during the day, below zero at night – Mother Nature’s grand gesture that spring is on its way in.
Every March (or April), we join my dad in the sugar bush for the Annual Four Wheel Farm Maple Syrup Ritual. We pretend to help, but know our few hours in the bush is just a social gathering, he spends the week collecting sap, tending the fire, boiling down and bottling. Like gatherings are happening throughout Ontario and Quebec, in grand mechanized operations, old school bucket style operations like ours and in city parks. Farmers, families and school kids know that this is a Canadian right of passage.
It’s a big business, close to $100 million dollars, mostly exported, but we know the work involved, so we cherish it. With a fourty to one sap to syrup ratio, it’s liquid gold, and unlike many other foods, not a drop is wasted.
Rich in history, the Ojibwa called this season Sugar Month. My kind of month. Natural, pure and local, we’re given full permission to sweeten up til we run out. For Sugar Month, try my (my kids) top 3 favourite ways to maple syrup indulge. Simple recipes from In My Mother’s Kitchen (link to buy cookbook).
These recipes are a celebration of home grown, simple home cooked food from happy memories, favourite people and places. These recipes celebrate the age old ritual of the hunt and gather and the family and neighbourhood communities that gather and share. Like the ingredients, these recipes are meant to be shared, so please pass them on.
RECIPE: BONNIE'S BARBECUED SALMON
This delicious salmon looks beautiful—impressive to serve guests at a casual gathering. For a large group, ask for a whole side of salmon. I prefer wild Atlantic salmon. SERVES 5 OR 6
1 centre-cut side of salmon (2 1/2 lb/1.25 kg), 2 inches (5 cm) thick
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp (15 mL) pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped parsley
1 tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup
1 tbsp (15 mL) soy sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
Preheat grill to medium-high.
Place salmon on a large sheet of foil. In a small bowl, combine garlic, pepper, parsley, maple syrup, soy sauce and oil. Brush sauce all over the fish. Tent top of foil.
Grill 12 to 15 minutes or until flesh is nearly opaque in the centre. Remove from heat. Spoon sauce over fish.
I have so many recipes for dressing up pork tenderloin, from Asian to Indian. But this recipe is one of my absolute favourites. It uses my dad’s apples and maple syrup—an ode to Ontario! As a meat marinade, try my Ode to Ontario Pork Tenderloin.
RECIPE: ODE-TO-ONTARIO PORK TENDERLOIN (SERVES 4)
1 cup (250 mL) beer
1/4 cup (60 mL) maple syrup
1/4 cup (60 mL) soy sauce
1/4 Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 tart apple (such as McIntosh), peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp (10 mL) chopped fresh thyme
2 pork tenderloins (each about 3/4 lb/375 g)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- In a small saucepan, combine beer, maple syrup, soy sauce, onion, apple and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.
- Season pork with salt and pepper and put in a shallow roasting pan. Tuck thin “tail” under so each tenderloin is a uniform thickness.
- Pour sauce over pork.
- Roast uncovered, basting with sauce a few times, 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160°F (70°C). Let rest 5 minutes before carving. Slice into thick medallions and spoon sauce over top.
- Stock up at trishmagwood.ca. Limited run. Mennonite John Martin has helped my dad scale his one man Creemore operation. They’ve collaborated and bottled limited run MAGWOOD maple syrup, avails only here (unless you stop in at my parents, they may give you a bottle). It’s an addictive consumable. Best to not get just one.
For more recipes and local goods, check out Magwood.co. The shop is always open.