An Ingredient From the Earth

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May 8th, 2009

As spring dawned in Canada a few months ago, I stood amongst hundreds of maple trees in the quiet sugar bush and watched as the first drops of sap fell slowly into the silver buckets below.  In those moments, I understood the meaning of “natural” in a whole new way.  Maple syrup is truly an ingredient “from the Earth,” 100% pure and free of any artificial additives.  Maybe that’s why the fake stuff doesn’t really stand a chance.

Pure Canadian maple syrup, the majority of which is produced in Quebec, is harvested by more than 8,600 producers, many of whose families have been in the business for generations.  Maple syrup in its purest form has always been a part of my life and my cooking, and I’m excited to share the versatility of this special sweetener with you.

When I was running my Maui restaurant years ago, we’d fire up the ovens from the break of dawn and fed them hundreds of trays filled with my now infamous granola.  Our secret ingredients were tossed and bound together with pure Canadian maple syrup.  The irony of using a Northern treat in the tropics was never lost on us. Temperatures in the kitchens were unbearable at times, and we craved the crisp air of the Quebec maple tree forests. We fed our granola ovens and talked about what the long days of harvesting maple syrup must be like and wondered what the actual method entailed.

Now that I’ve experienced this magical process first hand, I’m looking forward to sharing my recipes and letting you in on a few of maple’s delicious secrets along the way.

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