A recipe from the Federation of Québec Maple Syrup Producers and We Love Maple.
When I was 14 our class went on a skiing trip to Montreal, Québec. It was a rather grand adventure for me, and it was the longest road-trip, at that time, that I’d ever taken – a drive all the way from Cape Breton Island on the east coast of Canada to the grand city of Montreal.
We spent one evening at the Québec Winter Carnival in Québec City – the largest winter carnival in the world. I remember the ice sculptures – there was an International Ice Sculpture Competition going on and I remember being in awe at the sheer size of the exhibits, including a huge ice castle you could walk inside of.
I remember it being bitterly cold too, although I was wearing my brand new black and green ski jacket. Oh gosh I loved that ski jacket!
My best friend and I were wandering around taking in the sights and we stumbled across a street food vendor rolling taffy maple syrup in the snow.
I broke a $100 bill (quite possibly the only $100 I have ever had in my possession) to buy my friend and I each one of these soft maple syrup candies on a lollipop stick.
Oh the flavour! It was amazing – the warm, sticky maple syrup sweetness. It dripped down the inside of the cuff of my brand new ski jacket, but I didn’t care. It tasted amazing!
Fast forward 25 years and, on the other side of the Atlantic, I find myself eating Québec maple syrup yet again, this time courtesy of We Love Maple.
Maple syrup is made from the sap of the maple tree, harvested between early March to the end of April when the sap starts running again after the Winter. Each tree is tapped with a three inch deep hole into which a metal spile is fixed. A lidded metal bucket is hung from the spile and the sap drains into it.
The sap is then transported to a sugar house where it is boiled down into the maple syrup we are familiar with. I remember an elderly neighbour boiling down maple syrup in his garden when I was very young.
There are four grades of maple syrup: extra light, light, medium and amber.
Extra light maple syrup is primarily produced from the syrup collected at the very beginning of the season. It is recognisable by its light colour and sweet, delicate flavour.
Light maple syrup is harvested after the extra light syrup and is still relatively light in colour with a pure, delicate taste. This grade is ideal in vinaigrettes or drizzled over sweet and savoury dishes.
Medium maple syrup is the most commonly used syrup, harvested after light syrup. It has a more pronounced maple flavour and is perfect for cooking, desserts and sauces.
Amber maple syrup is much darker in colour with a rich, distinctive flavour that is more pronounced than that of medium syrup. It is recommended for sauces and glazes.
As a family we put the four grades of maple syrup to a taste test with some brioche French toast for Sunday brunch. We started with the the light syrup – lovely and sweet with a mild hint of maple. Next, the amber – a stark contrast from the light with a rich, strong flavour of maple. The medium maple syrup was the kind we’re accustomed to having on our French toast while the light tasted in between the extra light and medium. The overall favourite was the medium (although I am now quite partial to the strong flavour of the amber).
Maple syrup, in addition to drizzling over French toast and pancakes, can be used in a wide range of sweet and savoury dishes, like this maple-braised venison bourguignon recipe, courtesy of We Love Maple. For more recipe inspiration visit their website, or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
OTHER RECIPES USING MAPLE SYRUP AS AN INGREDIENT
Maple-glazed sprout tops with crispy pork and creamy polenta by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary
Oatmeal Rhubarb Porridge by Little Sunny Kitchen
Blackberry Frozen Yogurt & Granola Breakfast Pops by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary
Parsnip & Carrot Kugel by Family, Friends, Food
Greek Yogurt with Maple Syrup and Cashews by Recipes from a Pantry
Pecan and Maple Ginger Tiffin by Tin & Thyme
Apple Cupcakes with Maple Syrup Frosting by Penne for Your Thoughts
Maple Cinnamon Glazed Plum & Blackberry Sticky Buns by Kavey Eats
Vegan Banana Cake by Fab Food 4 All
Cranberry, Maple Pecan Cake with White Chocolate Maple Frosting by Jen’s Food
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Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary was sent a selection of pure Canadian maple syrups to try from We Are Maple. All thoughts and opinions expressed are our own. This is not a paid post. With thanks to We Love Maple for the recipe.