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Welcome to WFAEats — a fun adventure where we explore all things tasty and interesting in the Charlotte food scene. We want to share stories, recipes and culinary escapades and hear about yours!

Find Your Sweet Spot: March Is Maple Month

1280px-Maple_syrup_bucket.jpg
Oven Fresh
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A maple tree which has been tapped in the "traditional" way to harvest maple syrup.

While we suffer in the South under piles of pollen, the trees up North are behaving in a much more tasteful fashion. That’s because March is Maple Month, when the sap starts to flow.

Sugarmakers (yes, that’s a real job title) tap the trees, collect the sap, then boil the sap down into pure maple syrup. There are no shortcuts and no imports: North American maple trees grow nowhere else in the world.

Our affection for the sweet stuff isn’t merely North American pride. The rest of the world has taken notice of research into maple syrup’s unique and healthful qualities. According to a recent article in the UK’s Daily Mail, “Maple Syrup Joins the Ranks of Broccoli and Blueberries as New ‘One-Stop Shop’ Superfood.” Here’s a glimpse into the science behind the headline: “Several of the syrup’s polyphenol, or water-soluble, compounds inhibited the enzymes that convert carbohydrates to sugars, raising the prospect of a new way of managing Type 2 Diabetes.”

Maple fans can learn more lore, and even plan a visit to a sugarhouse in the U.S. or Canada by visiting maplemonth.com.

Closer to home – and the kitchen – Ken Haedrich is the author of The Maple Syrup Cookbook. The winner of a Julia Child Cookbook Award, he runs The Pie Academy, an online community that promises to make anyone a successful pie-baker. But with recipes for Hot and Spicy Shrimp Kabobs, Maple-Ginger Ice Cream, and barbecue sauce, it’s his mastery of all things maple that tempt us the most. We especially like this recipe for Maple Spareribs. We think they’re awfully sweet. 

Crispy Maple Spareribs

All you need to make a meal of these is a big green salad — and plenty of napkins.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

3 pounds lean pork spareribs

1 small onion, finely chopped

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon chili sauce

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 deg. F/200 deg. C. Arrange the ribs on a wire rack in a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes.

2. Combine the onion, maple syrup, chili sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste in a small saucepan and bring to a boil; boil for 5 minutes.

3. Lower the oven temperature to 350 deg. F/180deg. C. Remove the ribs from the rack and arrange in a baking pan; brush them with the sauce. Bake uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes, basting frequently, until the ribs are glazed to a deep mahogany color.

4. Cut between the rib bones with a sharp knife and serve.

Excerpted from The Maple Syrup Cookbook, 3rd. Ed. (c) Ken Haedrich. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.