Saturday, July 01, 2006

Extra! Extra! Maple Syrup and Canada Day.

Yes, Yes, the The Old Foodie knows that today is Saturday, not a weekday, but it is Canada Day (Fête du Canada), and The Old Foodie has many loyal Canadian readers.

As a gift to them all on their National Day, she gives some maple syrup recipes from From “The Emigrant Housekeepers Guide to the Backwoods of Canada” by Mrs. C.P.Traill, (1857). Images of the full text of this book can be found at Early Canadiana Online.

MAPLE SYRUP: This beautiful addition to the table is simply a portion of the syrup, taken out when it begins to thicken to the consistency of virgin honey. It sells at ninepence or tenpence a-quart readily; if for use in your own family, boil it rather longer, and cork it tight, setting it by in a cool cellar to keep it from fermentation. It is used as a sauce fro pancakes, pudding, and to eat with bread. Those persons who do not think it worth their while to make sugar, will often make a gallon or two of molasses. Some call it maple honey, and indeed it comes nearer to honey in tast, and consistency, than to treacle.

MAPLE SWEETIES: When sugaring off, take a little of the thickest syrup into a saucer, stir in a very little fine flour, and a small bit of butter, and flavour with essence of lemon, peppermint, or ginger, as you like best; when cold, cut into little bricks about an inch in length. This makes a cheap treat for the little ones. By melting down a piece of maple sugar, and adding a bit of butter and flavouring, you can always give them sweeties, if you think it proper to allow them indulgencies of this sort.

MAPLE VINEGAR: Those persons who make maple sugar generally make a keg of vinegar, which, indeed, is highly advisable; no house should be without it; it is valuable both as an article of diet and medicine; and as it is easily made, and costs nothing but the labour, I shall give directions on how to make it.
At the close of the sugar-making season, in the month of April, the sap loses much of its sweetness, and when boiled down, will not make sugar, but it will make good vinegar: - for this purpose it will only be necessary to reduce five pails of sap to one by boiling; twenty-five gallons of sap, boiled down to five, will fill your little five gallon keg; but it is better to boil rather more, as you will need some after the fermentation is over to fill up the vessel. This is the common proportion: five pails to one; but I don not think that six to one would be too much to allow in boiling down. While blood-warm, strain the liquor into the vessel, and pour in half a tea-cup of rising; set the cask in the chimney corner, or at the back of the stove, and let it work as long as it will, then lay a bit of glass over the bunghole to keep out dust, and let it stand where it will keep moderately warm for weeks. It will be fit for use by the summer; if it is too weak, put a little more sugar to it.
In the hot weather, a nice cooling drink can be made with a quart of hot water, a large spoonful of maple syrup, and as much vinegar as will sharpen it; when quite cold, grate a little nutmeg on it, or drop in a little essence of lemon, to flavour it. This is very refreshing in harvest weather.

MAPLE BEER: This is made with sap, boiled down as for vinegar, to which a large handful of hops boiled, and the liquor strained in, it added, with barm to ferment it; some add sprigs of spruce, others bruised ginger.

MAPLE WINE: Boil down six pails of sap to one, in proportion to the quantity you wish to make. Set it to ferment with a little yeast, and stop it soon: let it stand in a cool cellar after it is bunged. It may be drunk in a few weeks, as it has not much body, and would soon sour. A finer wine may be made with sap, boiled down, adding a quarter of a pound of raisins split.
This wine should be made when the sap is at its best: it is not prudent to defer it to the end of the season.


Barb said...

I am a novice, so can you tell me what is "rising"? I am interested in making maple vinegar but am unclear what the substance "pour in halve a tea-cup of rising" is.


The Old Foodie said...

Hi Barb.
This would be the yeast starter culture, to get the fermenation going.

Unknown said...

Why is it not prudent to make maple wine out of the sap at the end of the season? I've been getting the sap left in the arch of a friend of mine at the end of the sugaring season. This would otherwise be a waste product, but it is sweet and fermentable so I throw it into a barrel and place an airlock on it. Is this not prudent?


The Old Foodie said...

So, Jon - how does the maple wine turn out?