Life on Regal-Hill: March 17, 2010

Local maple producers have tapped their sap bushes and this week they are busy making maple syrup. The weather has been perfect, cold nights and warm sunny days. Here at Regal-Hill 300 plus taps have been made so far. This is our son-in-law’s first year using his new sap house and all of its equipment, so undoubtedly there will be some problems as the season goes along. Of course the deep snow doesn’t help one to get around to run tubing and tap trees either.
Maple syrup is nutritious as well as tasty, making it a better choice when sweetening food than some sweeteners, but it also has no more calories than sugar, about 200. Each 1/4 cup of NYS maple syrup also contains seven percent calcium and one percent potassium. Maple syrup contains no fat or cholesterol. Maple syrup is also low in sodium, about eight milligrams per 1/4 cup.
Some interesting information I found in Country Woman magazine includes the following:
A maple tree must be 40 years old before it is large enough to tap. Then it will yield sap for 100 years or more.
It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
The maple season usually stops by sometime late in April when the trees begin to bud, making the syrup taste bitter.
In some areas of Asia, maple sap is drunk fresh as a beverage.
Every year many maple producers hold open house where one can visit an operation and sample their maple products as well as buy syrup. This year the dates are March 20 and 21 and 27 and 28. Take advantage of these opportunities to learn about one of nature’s sweet resources. I think you will be glad you did.
It is that time of year when the maple trees release their sap and if the trees have been tapped the sap is running out of the tree into tubing and finally taken to the sap house to be boiled into maple syrup, another resource of our Catskill Mountains. Besides there is nothing like adding maple syrup to a recipe to make it more delicious and nutritious. Try these recipes and enjoy!

Orange-Maple Glazed Chicken
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt, divided
3/4 tsp. pepper, divided
1 Tbsp. minced fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 oz. each)
In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice, syrup, vinegar, mustard, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil, cook until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil and orange peel. Remove from the heat, set aside.
Sprinkle chicken with remaining salt and pepper. Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until chicken juices run clear, basting frequently with orange juice mixture.
Yield: 6 servings
Taste of Home Simple & Delicious July/August 2009

Maple Oatmeal Scones
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup quick cooking oats plus additional for sprinkling
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
4 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs. milk or water for egg wash
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Blend the cold butter in at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is in peasized pieces. Combine the buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs and add quickly to the flour and butter mixture. Mix just until blended. Dough may be sticky.
Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface and be sure it is combined. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4 to 1-in. thick. You should see lumps of butter in the dough. Cut into 3-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are crisp and the insides are done.
To make the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup and vanilla.
When the scones are done, cool for 5 minutes and drizzle each scone with 1 tablespoon of glaze. I like to sprinkle some uncooked oats on top for garnish. The warmer the scones are when you glaze them the thinner the glaze will be.
Makes 14 large scones.
1999 The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook