Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The First Adirondack Harvest: Maple Sugaring

This year, the sap flow has arrived a little sooner than usual, and some began tapping in and boiling in January – but most maple producers (at least near where I live in Washington County) are having or have had a decent run. Some have even boasted a banner year for production. Others at higher elevations are reporting production down a third or more.

This past Friday, the ceremonial tapping of the sugar maple took place at Mapleland Farms in Salem, NY. As soon as I left my car, I could smell (and feel) the heavy sweet-smelling steam flowing out of the sugar house as it filled the air.With U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson, NYS Assemblyman Tony Jordan, the Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association Maple Princess, representatives from the Granville FFA Chapter, town supervisors from Salem, Greenwich, Washington County Tourism Director Christine Hoffer and more, gathered to help kick-off the two weekends marking the 2012 maple celebration.

The Campbells – Dave, Terry, and Terry’s wife Sue have been part of the maple production started by the Campbell brothers (including their brother Paul who steps in to help during the open house weekends) at Mapleland Farms.

At many of the area sugar houses you’ll find a great breakfast with pancakes and sausage topped with warm, liquid gold syrup next weekend, March 24 and March 25. Visit more than one; for more details on the participating producers visit www.mapleweekend.com.

Cider and Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

While maple syrup is a great sweet addition or the highlight of many desserts and confections, it can also play a starring role in savory dishes, like this main course.

Yield: Six Servings

Two 3/4 to 1 pound pork tenderloins
8 sprigs of fresh sage
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Rub pork tenderloins with softened butter; sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet, cook pork tenderloins and turn occasionally until nicely browned on all sides, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Transfer tenderloins with 4 sprigs of sage to a roasting pan and place in oven for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, or until the thermometer inserted into the center of meat registers 155 degrees F. Transfer the meat to a
platter and allow to stand, with aluminum foil tenting for 10 minutes, discard sage.

Whisk the mustard, cider, and maple syrup together in a small bowl. While the tenderloin is roasting, add mixture to the skillet and boil over high heat until reduced by half, to approximately one-quarter cup, or 7-8 minutes.

Add the tenderloins (and any accumulated juices) to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and turn the pork in the glaze until coated, one to two minutes.

Remove the tenderloins from the skillet and place on a cutting board. Slice at a diagonal, one-half-inch thick. Drizzle any remaining glaze over the slices. Serve on a warmed platter garnished with 4 sprigs of sage.

Optional side dishes: Brussels Sprouts with toasted walnuts, Spaetzel with fresh herbs.

Photos: U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson, and NYS Assemblyman Tony Jordan set a ceremonial “first tap” of the Maple Season. Inside Mapleland Farms sugarhouse in Salem, NY as the sap boils and people get ready to eat a home cooked local breakfast with Mapleland Farms warm, sweet syrup. Terry and Sue Campbell of Mapleland Farms with their growing array of maple products from sugar and syrup to candy, savory dressings and more.

Annette Nielsen is a food writer, editor, community organizer and activist on behalf of regional agriculture. She recently edited Northern Comfort and Northern Bounty, two seasonally-based cookbooks for Adirondack Life Magazine. You can follow her on twitter @The_Kitchen_Cab. A native of Northville, she lives in Salem, New York with her husband and son.

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Annette Nielsen is a noted local food writer, editor, community organizer and activist on behalf of regional agriculture. She recently edited Northern Comfort and Northern Bounty, two seasonally-based cookbooks for Adirondack Life. A native of Northville, (she now lives in Salem, Washington County with her husband and son), Nielsen writes about Adirondack foodie culture with an eye toward locally sourced foods from forest, orchard, and farm. Annette Nielsen can be reached on Twitter and Facebook.

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