Written By: Brenna Bartley, Coordinator, Educational Programming
Eagerly awaiting the first run of sap in the sugar bush is a truly great Canadian tradition. The taps are in and the pails are hung, and now we wait for the ideal conditions for sap to flow. Temperatures of approximately -5°c at night and +5°c during the day are necessary for sap to flow. Frosty nights and sunny days are maple syrup weather! Some years these conditions occur as early as February and some years the trees remain frozen until almost April. Early or late, maple syrup production is all up to Mother Nature, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. The waiting reminds us of the importance of the seasonal cycle and the enjoyment that comes from carefully watching natural processes wax and wane each year.
However, all that waiting and anticipation can work up an appetite! Fortunately, maple syrup lasts indefinitely in the freezer, so we can rely on last year’s crop to top our pancakes while watching the taps for the first drops of this year’s sap.
In honour of this great Canadian tradition we are featuring the Great Canadian Maple weekend at Mountsberg Conservation Area, March 7 & 8. Come to the park and watch the trees for the first sap of the season as the temperature creeps above zero. Dress in red and white and receive a free treat in the gift shop!
Pick up some maple syrup from the gift shop and you can satisfy your appetite for spring with this Great Canadian Maple breakfast, featuring whole grain pancakes from chef Michael Smith, topped with vanilla yogurt and berry sauce (red and white pancakes anyone?) with a side of maple candied bacon. In true homage to the sugar bush we have worked maple syrup into every aspect of this meal!
Tip: Make your berry sauce and bacon ahead so you can assemble and enjoy your pancakes as soon as they are done and are still warm!
Whole Grain Pancakes
(Note: we have modified this recipe slightly – for the original please visit http://chefmichaelsmith.com/recipe/country-inn-pancakes/)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat, grain or almond flour
1 cup oatmeal flakes
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups any milk or water
1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat pan over medium heat.
- Combine dry ingredients (flours, oatmeal, baking powder, cinnamon or nutmeg, salt) in a large bowl.
- Wisk together wet ingredients (eggs, milk or water, oil or melted butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract).
- Combine wet ingredients with the dry and stir until mixed. Add additional water/milk if the batter appears too thick.
- Add 1 tbsp butter or vegetable oil to your preheated pan and spoon batter into pan (approximately 1/3cup makes a nice size pancake).
- Flip pancakes when the uncooked side is dotted with small holes from popped bubbles. The second side will cook much faster. When both sides are browned, remove from heat and place on pie plate in 170 degree Fahrenheit oven to keep warm as you finish the batch.
1 ½ cups frozen berries (we prefer a 4 berry blend of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries available at most major grocery stores)
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- Combine ingredients in a small pot over medium heat.
- Heat for approximately 10 minutes. Carefully watch for burning and stir occasionally. The sauce will be done when most of the berries have reduced to a liquid.
- Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature and thicken.
- Serve over warm pancakes with a dollop of vanilla yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup and enjoy!
Maple Candied Bacon
1 lb Thick sliced bacon (applewood smoked is especially yummy)
2-3 tbsp Pure Maple Syrup
- Cook bacon over medium heat until almost done and remove to a plate.
- Drain bacon fat from pan.
- Add maple syrup and bacon to pan on low to medium heat. Allow maple syrup to thicken and coat bacon. Turn bacon periodically. Watch pan carefully to ensure maple syrup cooks evenly and does not burn.
- Remove bacon from pan to a plate to cool when bacon is glossy and desired doneness is achieved.
Stay tuned to this blog for more maple recipes to come throughout the month of March. Click here for more information on how to enjoy Maple Season in our Halton Parks look for Mountsberg’s Maple Town and Crawford Lake’s Sweetwater Season or click here for a sneak peek into a day at Maple Town.