Vermonters have harvested maple syrup for a long time. Syrup is made by boiling sap into a concentrate. Use it to top pancakes, mix into a salad dressing, or create a glaze for roasted vegetables.
Native Americans tapped maple trees for hundreds of years to access its sap.
European settlers made their way to Vermont bringing an iron and copper kettles. These were essential for holding the sap while it boiled. Many people know of this process as sugaring. From the 17th century onward, many Vermont dairy farmers sugared during the winter to boost their income.
Today, sugar makers across the state tap maple trees in the spring when temperatures fall below freezing overnight and range from 40-45 degrees F during the day. Using the heat from either oil or wood, they boil the sap into a concentrated syrup that people enjoy year-round.
Maple syrup contains some of the same polyphenolic compounds found in foods like berries, flaxseeds, and tea. That means it is an excellent source of antioxidants. In fact, that means maple syrup ranks high among “superfoods” like cabbage and carrots.
When compared to other unrefined sweeteners like agave and honey, maple syrup is a better source of minerals and antioxidants for fewer calories. Unlike most added sugars, maple syrup contains nutrients and flavors that refined sweeteners like cane sugar or corn syrup lack.
While maple syrup can be an excellent source of antioxidants, enjoy in moderation!
Maple Syrup Grades
Though all grades of pure maple syrup are identical in density and maple syrup content, the color of the syrup can and does range from pale golden to dark brown.
The state of Vermont distinguishes among four maple syrup grades. From light to dark they are Fancy, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber, and Grade B. While all different grades look and taste different, all maple syrup is produced by the same process.
Maple Ginger Chicken Thighs
- 1Shallot, finely sliced
- 3/4cupApple Cider
- 1/2cupDark pure maple syrup
- 1TbspFinely grated ginger
- 1TbspChopped fresh thyme leaves, plus 5 sprigs for the roasting pan
- 3/4tspkosher salt
- 1/2tspGround pepper
- 8Bone-in chicken thighs
- In a medium bowl whisk shallot, cider, maple syrup, grated ginger, apple cider vinegar, chopped thyme leaves, kosher salt, and ground black pepper.
- Pour marinade into a large ziptop bag and add in chicken thighs. Seal bag and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.
- After the chicken has marinated preheat your oven to 400 degrees, add chicken to a large cast iron skillet or 9x13 baking dish and arrange apple slices and thyme sprigs around the chicken.
- Pour the marinate over the chicken and bake the chicken for about an hour or until the chicken is fully cooked. Baste the chicken with marinade a few times during the cooking process.
- Let the chicken cool slightly and enjoy!