Sunday, November 18, 2012

Canning with Maple Syrup

In this house, only Vermont Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup will do.

It's expensive, though, so we plan ahead and make a day trip up to Vermont once every 1-2 years to buy it from the source.  Even in the stores up there it's pricey so we buy it straight from the farms.  Last time we found, for the first time, a reliable farm that had plenty in stock.  Dark is hard to come by most of the time, but not there.  We usually buy 2 gallons for ourselves, and then buy a few gallons for other people who wouldn't otherwise make the trip.  With one of those people, for one gallon I get smoked Alaskan salmon that her husband catches and smokes himself.  I think that is a very reasonable trade.

In case you're wondering, syrup does fine on the shelf in a cool place until you open it.  After that, it needs to be refrigerated or frozen.  If you have gallon jugs, like we do, freeze them.  It'll last up to a year that way.  Just thaw it and pour some into a smaller container so you have some ready.  Syrup shouldn't actually freeze, if the sugar content is high enough.  It just gets really thick.

This year we are planning to go in the days after Thanksgiving.  But I think that I may be buying 3 gallons for myself.  This is because I've decided that I should experiment more with cooking with syrup.  I started today by creating a jam recipe with maple syrup.

Maple Pear Jam

4.5 cups of minced pears (3-4 pears, roughly)
2 T. lemon juice
1 cup maple syrup
2 cups sugar
1 package low-sugar powdered pectin

Mix the pears with the lemon juice to prevent browning as you cut up all the pears.  Mix the pectin with 1/4 cup of sugar and then mix with the pears and lemon juice.  Cook until boiling.  Here's where I had a little trouble because there wasn't really any liquid in the pears so it didn't really boil.  Eventually I just added the syrup and sugar and brought all that to a boil.  (Warning!  It is super thick, and bubbles spatter quite high.  Stand back.)  Once it was at a rolling boil, keep that for 1 minute and then remove from heat.  This made 5 cups of jam, which I put into 10 half-cup jars.  I thought it might be a good addition to the gift stash.  

Things to consider:  adding star anise or cinnamon or almonds.  The maple flavor isn't too strong so I wouldn't want to overwhelm it; I think a vanilla bean might be too much.  Another idea is to simmer the pears in some water or pear juice and mash them before doing the rest.

4 comments:

  1. I would love to have a gallon of real maple syrup. We can buy real syrup here but it is high.

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  2. I get together with a couple of people in the spring and make my own syrup. So this year since I'm out in the boonies, sugar is harder to find than the maple syrup sitting on my shelf. I tried making jam with it, it turned out more like apple butter, but still a fantastic flavor. You don't say how yours turned out.
    I am thinking of using maple syrup for a canning syrup, light is 14-17 brix while maple syrup is 66 brix. So three parts water to 1 part syrup ought to give me a good ratio.

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    1. It actually turned out well - it seems that the low-sugar pectin is the key here. The texture was somewhat sticky, which I initially thought was related to the maple syrup, but now that I've made a different jelly with the low-sugar pectin and regular table sugar I think the stickiness factor is just that type of pectin. This batch had little minced pear bits suspended in the jam; for the second batch I simmered the pear in pear juice to crush it so it was less...chunky. It is something I'll do again, when I'm in the mood! Do tell, though - how much syrup do you generally make each season? That's something I've always wanted to try but my maples aren't sugar maples (and I only have 3 of them...).

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    2. You can tap any maple, they all give maple syrup. Sugar maples will give the sweetest and most, but red and black maples will do OK. If you have 3 big trees, 2 or 3 taps each, you can easily make yourself a gallon of syrup in the spring.

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