It is maple syrup season and really it is our first spring crop. I am lucky to be surrounded by sugar maple bushes and and maple syrup festivals are kicking into high gear. If you ever have the opportunity to check out a maple syrup farm, you will not regret it. The amount of work and love that goes into producing maple syrup is truly something.
The time period for sugar water collection is short, usually occurring during two to three weeks in March and April. It is when people who tap wait patiently for the ideal time, when temperatures drop below freezing at night and rise above freezing during the day.
Once the sugar water is collected, it is taken into a sugar shack where it is boiled until gradually it thickens and becomes sweeter. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of delicious syrup. Not only is maple syrup delicious, it contains several nutrients essential to good health such as zinc, iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Although maple syrup is delicious on pancakes and waffles, it can also be used in marinades and sauces to add a healthy sweetness to many dishes. This recipe is a granola recipe that would make a great snack that is nutritious and filling.
Maple Nut Granola
• 3 cups rolled oats
• 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
• 1/3 cup hemp hearts
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup, preferably dark grade
• 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
• 1/2 cup hazelnuts, halved
• 3/4 cup dried cranberries
• 1/4 cup cacao nibs
Preheat oven to 325 F.
In a large bowl, toss together oats, walnuts, hemp hearts, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, stir together maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla. Add maple syrup mixture to oats and stir until everything is moist.
Pour the mixture out onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet and spread out into an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes; remove the pan from oven and stir in coconut flakes and hazelnuts. Return it to the oven and bake until granola is fragrant and golden (about 18 to 20 minutes), stirring once halfway through. Be careful that the oats don’t burn. Stir in dried cranberries and cacao nibs. Let cool completely and then place in an airtight container and eat within 2 weeks.
Photo from here, with thanks.