Arboretum News Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup Beyond the Pancakes

Yes, it's the perfect topping to your sweet breakfast foods, but maple syrup also works with everything from ice cream to coffee.

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A full bag of maple sap tapped from a tree at the Arboretum on March 11. Photo by Susie Eaton Hopper.

By Liz Potasek

In late February and March, when the days get warm and the nights go below freezing, the maple sap begins to flow. Each year, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum collects sap from maple trees and boils it down to create pure maple syrup.

That sweet syrup is bottled and sold in the Arboretum’s Gift & Garden Store. You can also enjoy pure maple syrup at our annual MapleFest Pancake Breakfast. (To comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines, this year’s MapleFest on March 27 is being served to-go. Order your pancakes by March 21, and pick them up March 27.)

This year’s maple syrup season is going well so far, says Richard DeVries, who manages maple syrup production at the Arboretum. “If we get a few more good days we will be about average,” DeVries says, noting that we’ve cooked 20 gallons of syrup so far this season. “If it cools off again next week, we might be above average. It is so weather dependent that you never really know until it’s over.”

This week’s snow didn’t hurt the sap flow. “If it stays below freezing, we just wait till it warms up again,” DeVries says. “It is a bigger problem when it warms up too much for too long. The sap spoils faster, and the trees could become active sooner. The season is over when the trees start to bud or when it stops freezing at night.”

Arboretum Pure Maple Syrup, cook books and tools for tapping your own maple trees are all available for sale at the Arboretum’s Gift & Garden Store. Photo by Cindy Toms.

As we collect sap this year, we’re still enjoying the syrup made last year. While maple syrup is delicious on pancakes (and other breakfast treats, like waffles and oatmeal), we’ve gathered five more ideas for using Arboretum Maple Syrup. Pick up a bottle at the Gift & Garden Store and try these creative ways to enjoy the pure maple syrup:

1. Maple Whipped Cream

Whip a pint of heavy cream with 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup to create a subtly sweet, fluffy treat. (Increase the syrup by 1-2 tablespoons if you’d like a sweeter whipped cream.) Maple Whipped Cream is great for frosting a cake or topping a pie.

2. Maple Coffee

Mix 1 -2 teaspoons maple syrup into your morning cup of coffee, and add any dairy or non-dairy accompaniment to taste. Bonus points for topping said coffee drink with a dollop of Maple Whipped Cream.

Vanilla ice cream and maple syrup are a perfect match. Photo by Liz Potasek.

3. Maple Sundae

Swap your chocolate syrup for maple syrup over vanilla ice cream. This two-ingredient dessert is perfect as is, but it’s also delightful with toasted chopped walnuts and a dollop of Maple Whipped Cream.

4. Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

Use maple syrup instead of honey to add some extra depth to your vinaigrette. At our house, we tend to mix up vinaigrette on the fly, using a ratio of about 1 part vinegar to three parts oil and then adding maple syrup, grainy mustard, salt and pepper to taste.

Try pouring 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons maple syrup, 1 teaspoon mustard and a few shakes of salt and pepper in a mason jar, seal it and shake it up to emulsify. Taste and modify ingredients to your preference.

Use the vinaigrette on a mixed green salad (a mix with craisins, goat cheese, walnuts and spinach would be delicious) or toss with cubed squash or vegetables before roasting.

5. Maple Mixed Drinks

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: If you’re using simple syrup in a mixed drink, most of the time it’s safe to swap in maple syrup. We’ve found maple syrup plays especially well in bourbon-based drinks.

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