Climate change means weird weather. Thanks to this winter’s snow storms we have a unique culinary opportunity. On the Ides of March we can enjoy a unique Hudson Valley, cold weather, traditional craft-treat, Maple Candy.
At the end of this long cold winter trees have begun to push sap from the roots out to their buds to start new leaves. The sap is slightly sweet and tasty. When you’re in the woods this week notice where the snow melt is more noticeable around the base of trees. Check out the color of the tree tips, they’re turning a muted pink. This means the sap is starting to run. For thousands of years people have captured and celebrated this sweet sap boiling it down to make sugar in early spring.
This year’s season may be short and sweet, late freezing and snow has already melted in Westchester and the Catskills are showing larger patches of brown earth each day. If you still have snow (or can get to some!) it’s time to make good use of it! Making Maple Candy is easy you’ll need only two locally abundant ingredients.
Today is most likely the first day this year you can enjoy the sweet sticky goodness of home made maple candy. Try this simple recipe:
1 pint of Hudson Valley maple syrup
1 foot in diameter nice clean snow
Bring the maple syrup to a slow boil in a pot on the stove. Keep a close eye on it because there is only a minute between extra thick syrup that makes great candy and setting off the smoke alarm and another trip to the store. The syrup will thin as it heats and then thicken again. As it thickens stir and keep close. When it’s as thick as cough syrup take the pot off the stove and carefully take it outside to the clean snow. Sprinkle the syrup on the snow and let the snow’s cold harden the maple syrup. The resulting candy should be similar to taffy in consistency. Pick up your candy and enjoy the flavor of Spring in the Hudson Valley!
When choosing your maple syrup please note: Maple sugaring has been a great way for farmers and wood lot owners in the Hudson Valley to supplement their income. You can help support local farmers by checking the label of your maple product and choosing the one made close to home.