One of my first vendor stops at the 17th Annual Food and Wine Experience at Target Field in Minneapolis on Saturday afternoon was the one I found to be most educational. Steve Perry, of Three Rivers Farm in Elko, Minnesota, was showing off his 100% natural maple syrup. Along with tastes of the rich, dark amber syrup in small sipping cups, Perry enthusiastically shared information.
I tasted the syrup just as I would taste the wines offered at the show. I sniffed the familiar aroma of maple, then I took a sip and held it on my tongue, enjoying the delicate sweetness of the amber syrup. Finally, I swallowed it, appreciating the satiny feeling remaining in my mouth. I was sold on this deliciously flavorful maple syrup.
Perry referred to research carried out at the University of Rhode Island which found more than 20 compounds in maple syrup that have been linked to human health, 13 of which are newly discovered in maple syrup. In addition, eight of the compounds have been found in the Acer (maple) family for the first time. Several of these anti-oxidant compounds newly identified in maple syrup are also reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic properties.
Then Perry asked, “Would you like to taste the Bourbon Maple Syrup?” Perry suggested brushing salmon with the bourbon-flavored syrup. Sounded good to me. Just as he was sliding a bottle into a bag for me, along with a bottle of the traditional maple syrup, I was handed a cup of vanilla maple syrup. I swirled, sipped and swallowed. I could just imagine that warm vanilla syrup melting into a stack of weekend-morning hot and fluffy buttermilk pancakes. I came home with a bag of bottles filled with Three Rivers Farm 100% Maple Syrups.
One of my last visits at the show was with the Wisconsin cheese vendors. And there, in all its wrapped-in-paper, creamy, golden glory was Rochdale Farms Hand Rolled Butter. A network of Minnesota and Wisconsin Amish family dairy farms lovingly provide the cream, and a third-generation operation in Richland Center, Wisconsin, skillfully converts it into golden, velvety smooth, buttery goodness. Whey cream is added to each batch to impart a tangy, cultured flavor. Exquisite!
Three Rivers Farm suggests making maple butter by beating Â½ cup softened unsalted butter with 2 tablespoons Three Rivers 100% Natural Maple Syrup until light and fluffy. Use the best butter you can find. I’d choose Rochdale Farms Hand-Rolled Butter. Then, bake up a batch of my family’s favorite bran muffins and slather them with maple butter.