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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Winter's Last Potion

    I live right smack dab in the middle of a very special and unique area, an area that has the correct constitute to produce a magnificent potion. This potion needs a climate that dips below 40 degrees in the winter and begins to warm over 40 degrees during the day at the end of winter, lastly this potion needs Maple Trees.

    Taught to us by Native Americans, extracting sap from a maple tree is an easy but long process. A tap is inserted into a mature tree, which allows the sap to drip out into a container. The sap, which is mostly water, is boiled until it reaches 66.7% sugar content at 7.1 degrees above boiling. Once that happens, the magical sap has become Maple Syrup. Maple syrup, a healthier alternative than sugar, contains a trace mineral called manganese which helps energy production and antioxidant defenses. The zinc supplied by maple syrup, in addition to acting as an antioxidant, helps to prevent damage caused by LDL cholesterol and other oxidized fats.

    This morning was enjoyed eating blueberry pancakes with our fresh batch of maple syrup, and we topped them off with something new (to us), Maple Cream.

    Maple Cream
    • 2 cups fancy grade-A pure maple syrup
    • 1/4 teaspoon milk, cream or butter

    1.Prepare an ice water bath: Fill a large bowl with a 1/2 inch of water and ice. Pour the maple syrup into a small, high-sided saucepan and stir in the milk, cream or butter.

    2.Set a candy thermometer in the syrup and place the pan over medium heat.

    3.Cook, without stirring, until the temperature reaches 232 degrees F., about 10 minutes.

    4.Remove the saucepan from the heat. Pour the maple syrup into a cold, clean saucepan placed in the ice bath. Do not move or disturb the cream in any way while the syrup cools: If the maple syrup is jiggled, the cream won't form properly. Let stand, adding ice as needed to the ice water bath, until the syrup radiates a gentle warmth to the back of your hand when held about 1 inch above or a candy thermometer measures 140 degrees F.

    5.Once the mixture reaches the correct temperature, use a wooden spoon to slowly stir the mixture until it forms a light color and thickens to the consistency of peanut butter, about 12 minutes.

    6.Working quickly, transfer the maple cream to a jar or plastic container. Store, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 6 months, or in the freezer up to a year.~ source

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