A Sticky Situation

I finally got my syrup last weekend. Regular readers know that I’ve been without my local syrup for the past few months having missed the 2015 sugaring season. But last week I was able to get to one of the local maple festivals and replenish my supply. In fact, I might have overplenished it but I’ve always said you can’t have enough pure maple syrup. I’m sure I’ve said it sometime. At least once.

Anyway, to make a short story long, I picked up a couple of jugs of some freshly prepared syrup for all my maple needs and discovered somebody changed the grading system for my syrup. You may have heard this before and if you had feel free to skip the next couple of paragraphs and go straight to the bit about food that comes right after them. Of course you do know I’ll feel horrible about it if you do.

What once was a fairly straightforward grading system has been turned into a jumble of color and taste. Some say it more appropriately describes the product. I say the big sugarers have finally gotten their way. There are still four grades of syrup. But where there used to be Fancy, Grade A Amber/Dark Amber, Grade B, and Grade C, there are now Grade A, Grade A, Grade A, and Grade A. Really, four grades all A. I can see it now – “Major Mega Marketer Maple Syrup, Now New and Improved with only Grade A Syrup!”

Really, there are now four (4!) Grade A syrups – Grade A: Golden Color and Delicate Taste (formerly Fancy), Grade A: Amber Color and Rich Flavor (Formerly Grade A Amber and Grade A Dark Amber), Grade A: Dark Color and Robust Flavor (Formerly Grade B), and Grade A: Very Dark and Strong Flavor (Formerly Grade C or Commercial (not routinely sold as is (or was) but sold to factories and confectioners for use in other products)).

Whatever you call it, I picked up some dark colored, robustly flavored former Grade B syrup (because I use it in cooking as much as over pancakes) and celebrated with a great maple dinner. You make it too.

In a small sauce pan sweat one coarsely chopped small onion, add a small can baked beans and stir in one ounce (2 tablespoonsful) syrup, a couple of dashes of hot sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. While that’s going on, brown 1 tablespoonsful of butter in a small pan, add an one-half ounce syrup. Add a single portion ham steak to the pan and baste with the butter/syrup mixture until the ham is warm through.  Remove the ham and toss a handful or spring peas in the remaining butter/syrup glaze. Serves one.

You can be a maple nut too. Replace the sugar in almost any recipe with former Grade B maple syrup substituting ¾ cup syrup for each cup sugar and reduce the liquid in your recipe by about 75%.

Four Grade A classifications. By an official department of the United States of America. Of course that department is the Department of Agriculture, the same department that keeps reshaping the food pyramid. And they are some people who worry that the next president might be Hillary or The Donald.

That’s what I think. Really. How ‘bout you?

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