cabbage and berry salad from Teresa Marrone, author of
— When the nights are below freezing and the days are in
the 40s, you’ll find Teresa Marrone checking on two maple
trees on her south Minneapolis property, watching for the
drip-drip-drip of the sap flowing.
known as the crazy lady in the neighborhood who taps trees
in the front yard," Marrone said with a laugh.
surprisingly, she has found many uses for this sweet liquid,
which she describes in a new book, "Modern Maple,"
the second in the Northern Plate series by the Minnesota
Historical Society Press (168 pages, $16.95). From grilled
radicchio with a maple glaze to mulled maple apple cider and
maple chicken wings, Marrone offers 75 recipes to please our
longtime forager, Marrone has written several books on wild
foods, including "Cooking With Wild Berries and Fruits
of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan," and
"Abundantly Wild: Collecting and Cooking Wild Edibles
in the Upper Midwest."
sap for maple syrup comes from a tiny — and very hardy —
part of the world, where there is just the right freeze-thaw
cycle and where certain types of maples grow. Not
surprisingly, that includes Minnesota, the state farthest
west for maple syrup production. We produce only small
quantities (less than 1 percent of U.S. production). The
bulk of the remaining U.S. production comes from the
Northeast, with Vermont and New York yielding more than half
of the U.S. supply. Most maple syrup (80 percent) comes from
a small swath of Canada, particularly in Quebec.
Minnesota there are only two major commercial syrup
producers — Wild Country Maple Products and
Caribou Cream, both of Lutsen, Minn. — though smaller
processors and hobbyists offer a limited, very local
maple syrup doesn’t necessarily taste like another.
"We’re beginning to understand that syrup has terroir,"
said Marrone. That’s the notion that environment — the
soil, the altitude or air, and more — affects the flavor
of a food. The term is often used when describing wine or
cheese and other foods, including honey. Both Wild Country
and Caribou Cream have won national awards for their syrup,
beating out the biggies in the field with their flavors.
amazing is that the two syrups (from Up North) taste
different from each other," said Marrone. Large
commercial producers, such as those in the Northeast, often
blend their supplies of maple sap, which results in a
uniform flavor that lessens the effect of terroir.
Indians used maple flavoring — sap, syrup and sugar — as
a primary seasoning long before they had access to salt. It
still serves a role beyond cooking.
is more than an important foodstuff to Ojibwe and other
indigenous peoples of the area. It remains essential as the
first harvest of spring, the life-saving gift of the
creator, the blessed substance that once broke the fast of
winter’s starvation," said Heid Erdrich, a
Minneapolis writer at work on a book of indigenous food
stories and recipes.
sap is also an icon in Ojibwe stories that connects to women
and our roles as life-bringers and protectors of the waters
of the Earth. This time of year in the Ojibwe calendar is
called Iskigamiige-giizis, or Maple Sugar Moon," said
buckets, spigots, plastic bags and tubing used in tapping
maple trees are just the first step for producing the gooey
substance that transforms pancakes into puddles of delight.
Once the clear, mildly sweet liquid is retrieved from
maples, it’s off to the outdoor cooker to boil off the
water — and the sooner the better for the best results.
of a kettle, Marrone fires up a turkey fryer in her yard to
cook away the water in the sap. The process, which creates a
tremendous amount of steam, transforms what initially is 2
percent sugar in the sap into the 66 percent sugar that
syrup has. The final step — "when it’s brought down
to a respectable volume," Marrone said — takes place
on her stovetop, where she cooks off even more water.
the hobbyist, it’s a labor of love. A single gallon of
maple syrup comes from 40 gallons of sap.
determines the grade of maple syrup. Consumers will find
forms of Grade A at the supermarket, from Light Amber (the
first sap of the season) to Medium and Dark Amber. Some
cooks today reach for the Grade B variety, which is a very
dark syrup that results from being tapped further along in
the season. Once used exclusively in commercial products,
Grade B’s strong flavor — twice as much as Grade A —
is favored by some bakers and cooks. (Trader Joe’s carries
it, as do some other stores).
only way you’ve tried maple syrup — and we’re talking
about the real stuff, not the colored corn syrup that’s
sold as "imitation" — is on pancakes and French
toast, you have some discovering to do. As Marrone found,
maple syrup works well as a flavoring agent with a variety
of spices and herbs (cumin, sage and thyme, among them) and
it has a niche in savory dishes, as well as the more
predictable sweet ones.
TIPS AT HOME
syrup is sticky, of course, and that makes measuring a bit
messy. If you’re using oil in the same recipe as syrup,
measure the oil first and use the same utensil to measure
the syrup, which will slip out of the oil-coated utensil
easier than from a clean object.
you have some crystallized syrup at the bottom of the jar,
don’t toss it. This is more likely to happen with small
batches from home producers than a commercially made
product. "We don’t have the same sophisticated
equipment as commercial producers," said Marrone. If
you can’t dig out the crystals, simply put the container
in some very hot water and let it sit a bit until it loosens
turn your back on syrup that’s on the stove. It can burn
or boil over quickly, and is both messy and dangerous, since
it sticks to you and is hotter than boiling water.
"People don’t respect it as much as they
should," said Marrone. "When you’re cooking with
it, you need everything in its place — mise en place —
before you start."
with some unfamiliar combos with maple as you’re cooking.
Drizzle maple into your cappuccino or in a malted milk.
Infuse bourbon with it or add it to a hot toddy. Roast root
vegetables with it or caramelize onions with it. Add it to
homemade granola or whip it into butter. "Modern
Maple" and Marrone will guide you.
root or powdered ginger
fruits (cranberries, figs, apples, apricots)
(oily, such as salmon)
meats (bacon, ham)
BACK RIBS WITH MAPLE GLAZE
Penzey’s has smoked Spanish sweet paprika. Chile-garlic
sauce is available in the Asian section of the supermarket.
If your ribs are larger than noted here, they will need a
longer cooking time (3-pound racks are more likely to cook
for about 2 ¼ hours). From "Modern Maple," by
plus ¾ c. maple syrup, divided
tbsp. sweet paprika, preferably smoked Spanish (see Note)
tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
tsp. kosher salt
tsp. onion powder (not onion salt)
tsp. dried thyme leaves
racks baby-back ribs (1 ¾ to 2 ¼ lb. per rack) (see Note)
apple juice or water
minced or grated white onion
tbsp. Dijon mustard
chile-garlic sauce (see Note)
To make marinade: In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup maple
syrup, paprika, black pepper, salt, onion powder and thyme.
Cut each rack of ribs into 4 pieces; place in a large
nonreactive baking dish. Pour marinade over ribs and rub
into both sides, distributing it as evenly as you can. Cover
dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or
as long as 8 hours.
preliminary cooking: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Add about an
inch of water to roaster or other large baking dish. Place a
rack in the roaster, propping it up on balls of foil if
necessary to raise it above the water. Stack the ribs on the
rack; pour any liquid that has accumulated under the ribs
into the roaster. Seal the roaster tightly and bake for 1 ½
hours (see Note). Remove roaster from oven and set lid
slightly ajar; let ribs rest for 30 to 40 minutes. while
ribs are resting, prepare glaze.
prepare glaze: Combine ¾ cup maple syrup, apple juice,
tomato paste, onion, mustard and chile-garlic sauce in small
nonreactive saucepan. Heat to boiling, adjust heat so
mixture boils gently, and cook, stirring occasionally, for
about 20 minutes.
ribs have rested and glaze is ready, you can proceed
directly to grilling or else refrigerate ribs, loosely
covered, for up to 12 hours before grilling. Also cool and
refrigerate glaze if you are going to wait more than an hour
before grilling ribs.
grill: Prepare grill with direct, medium-intensity fire.
Place ribs on grate and cook until hot, turning frequently.
Brush generous layer of glaze on the top side of the ribs.
Cook for about 2 minutes, then turn ribs over and brush
again with glaze. Continue cooking ribs, turning every few
minutes and brushing with additional glaze, until ribs are
crusty and browned in spots, 5 to 10 minutes.
information per serving:
900 Fat 58 g Sodium 650 mg
35 g Saturated fat 21 g Calcium 150 mg
56 g Cholesterol 231 mg Dietary fiber 1 g
exchanges per serving: 2½ other carb, 8 high-fat meat.
CABBAGE AND BERRY SALAD
4 to 5.
From "Modern Maple," by Teresa Marrone.
medium red cabbage (you might not need it all)
thinly sliced white onion
tbsp. white wine vinegar
tsp. kosher salt
¾ orange, peeled
tbsp. maple syrup
olive oil or vegetable oil
fresh raspberries (large berries should be cut into half
cabbage into 2 quarters. Remove core from one quarter and
discard, then cut wedge crosswise into ¼-inch-wide slices.
You’ll need about 3 cups sliced cabbage, so you may also
need to core and slice some of the second quarter.
large nonreactive mixing bowl, combine sliced cabbage,
onion, vinegar and salt; stir well. Set aside at room
temperature to marinate for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring
several times. At end of marinating time, fill bowl with
cold tap water and swirl cabbage to rinse off salt and
vinegar. Pour into wire-mesh strainer and drain, then rinse
again; let drain for 5 to 10 minutes.
cabbage is draining, separate orange into segments. Use your
fingers to break each segment into ½-inch pieces, holding
segment over empty mixing bowl so juices drip into bowl. Add
orange pieces to bowl as you go. Add syrup and oil to bowl;
stir in mix. Return drained cabbage mixture to bowl; add
blueberries and raspberries and stir gently to mix.
information per each of 5 servings:
77 Fat 2 g Sodium 150 mg
15 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 41 mg
1 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 3 g
exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, ½ fruit, ½ fat.
COW WITH ROOT BEER AND MAPLE
From "Modern Maple," by Teresa Marrone.
tbsp. maple syrup
chocolate sundae syrup
(1 c.) chilled top-quality root beer
scoops vanilla ice cream
Add maple and chocolate syrups to tall, chilled pint glass.
Add about 1/3 cup root beer; stir well with a long-handled
spoon. Add a scoop of ice cream and another 1/3 cup root
beer; stir slightly. Add another scoop of ice cream; fill
glass with root beer and serve immediately with long-handled
spoon and a straw.
information per serving:
400 Fat 10 g Sodium 116 mg Sat. fat 6 g
75 g Calcium 160 mg
3 g Cholesterol 39 mg Dietary fiber 1 g
exchanges per serving: 5 other carb, 2 fat.