It’s a new month, which means it’s time for a new ingredient!!  Since I actually used this new ingredient in a meal this week (last night, in fact) I decided it would be perfect for the new month!

So, the new Ingredient of the Month is… Maple Syrup!

Image from frontiersoups.com
I love the sweet, sticky goodness of maple syrup!  And I’m talking pure maple syrup, not the kind made mostly from corn syrup.
Here’s some information about Maple Syrup I found on wikipedia.
Maple Syrup is a sweetener made from the sap of some maple trees. In cold climate areas, these trees store sugar in the roots, and the sap which rises in the spring can be tapped and concentrated. Quebec, Canada produces the world’s largest supply of maple syrup, and the United States is the only other major producer and the leading consumer.
Uses:
Maple syrup is most often used with pancakes, waffles, french toast, oatmeal, as an ingredient in baking, or as a sweetener for beer.  Though, as you’ll see in my first Ingredient of the Month recipe, it can be used in savory recipes as well.
Production:
It takes approximately 10 gallons of sap to be boiled down to make only 1 quart of syrup. One mature sugar maple produces only about 10 gallons of sap in the 4-6 week sugaring season. Trees are not tapped until they have a diameter of 10 inches at chest height, and are at least 40 years old.
Maple Syrup is sometimes boiled down even further to make maple sugar, a hard candy usually sold in pressed blocks, and maple taffy.

Imitation ‘Maple Syrup’:
In the United States, “Maple Syrup” must be entirely made from maple sap (small amount of substances such as salt may be added.) “Maple-flavored Syrups” contain maple, but also other, cheaper ingredients.  “Pancake, waffle, or table Syrup” is typically made up of high-fructose corn syrup flavored with sotolon, with no genuine maple content. U.S. labeling laws prevent these syrups from having the word ‘maple’ in their name.

I typically don’t do anything more with maple syrup than pour it over my pancakes, waffles and french toast.  And, in that case, it’s typically the ‘Pancake Syrup’, as opposed to actual ‘Maple Syrup’.  So I think this month will be interesting as I try to find different recipes to incorporate this ingredient.

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