In Praise of Real Maple Syrup

Spring is springing. It's a slow process, particularly here in New England, but we recently had five whole days of sunny, almost-60-degree weather, and yesterday we spotted crocus leaves peeking out of the ground by our driveway. Among the other glorious things that happen in spring is that the sap runs, which means it's sugaring time! Warm days and cold nights - the perfect formula for producing that sweet golden nectar we know as real maple syrup.

Up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Amy's cousins run Maplehurst Farm, a family-owned and operated dairy farm and sugarhouse. Their maple syrup is all natural, organic, and the best we've ever tasted, (although we may be a tiny bit biased). Amy recalls visiting "The Farm" as a child during sugaring time and happily sitting in the corner of the sugarhouse, breathing in the sweet-smelling steam, taking "shots" of the warm amber liquid, and pouring the hot syrup on snow for a sticky, delicious treat.

Growing up with the real deal means that to this day the "fake stuff" can not be tolerated by our family's delicate palates. If we're having breakfast out, we'll never order pancakes or waffles because the server might assault us with some ubiquitous mass-market maple "flavoring" made with various unpronouncables. Each household in our family always possesses at least a half-gallon of real maple syrup at any given time and God forbid we run out (although thankfully, The Farm now has online ordering since it's a 5-hour drive to get there from here!). 

By the way, real maple syrup isn't only a condiment for those aforementioned pancakes and waffles (or ice cream), but also, or maybe especially, for savory dishes (ever have a scallop wrapped in bacon and dipped in real maple syrup? amazing.), baking (maple pecan pie, anyone?), and beverages (a dash of maple syrup in a hot toddy will do you just right on a winter's eve).

As foodies, we believe in the power good, natural ingredients have to escalate food from edible to fabulous. Real maple syrup does exactly that. Is it expensive? Sure. But most high quality, organic, gourmet ingredients are. Consider the fact that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup, and the cost just makes sense. Try some real maple syrup from Maplehurst Farm or any New England sugarhouse. Along with a food lover's enjoyment of  a natural, fine, versatile ingredient, you'll also get the satisfaction of supporting real farmers engaged in good, honest work.

For more information about real maple syrup, check out the official website of Vermont Maple Syrup, the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association, or the maple syrup page of the World's Healthiest Foods website.

Once you go sap, you'll never go back.

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