Thursday, November 5, 2009

Veggie Might: Mmmm Is for Maple-Ginger Applesauce

Written by the fabulous Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about all things Vegetarian. 

Some friends and I went camping in the Adirondacks over Indigenous People’s Day weekend. We had a fab time, though it was a tad chilly and three of us tipped our canoe into Lake George.

On the way back to the city, I made the offhand remark to J and T that I’d never been to Vermont. From the map, I could see it was only about 10 miles east of us. J, our daring driver, made a quick left.

Within 30 minutes we were in Pittsford, VT at the New England Maple Museum.

The NEMM is a kitschy, animatronic wonder: hand-painted signs, scratchy speaker boxes, and homemade mannequins, made from what looked like panty hose, tell the history of maple sugaring. There are toy stuffed animals interspersed with their taxidermied counterparts in many of the dioramas.

Here’s what I learned about making maple syrup:
  • Making syrup is hard work.
  • The old timey way involved lots of water and funnel/trough-like contraptions.
  • The modern, new-fangled way involves lots of water, a funnel/trough-like contraption, and a giant Tin-man hat.
But the best part of the NEMM? There is a syrup tasting room. That’s right. We drank maple syrup out of little cups. It was one of my best days ever.

Here’s what I learned about the grades of syrup:
  • The grades have to do with color, not quality.
  • Grade A Fancy or Light Amber: light golden color, subtle maple flavor
  • Grade A Medium Amber: golden color, more distinct maple flavor, used for the table
  • Grade A Dark Amber: light russet color, rich maple flavor, used for the table and cooking/baking
  • Grade B: deep russet color, strongest maple flavor, used for the table, best grade for cooking/baking
Do not be fooled by pancake syrup, the NMEE warns, which is primarily corn syrup. Only 100% maple syrup will do. And I concur.

At the massive gift shop, I purchased a half-gallon of maple syrup (Grade B) and two pamphlet-sized cookbooks: The Official Vermont Maple Cookbook ed. by the Vermont Maple Foundation and Apple Sampler by Jan Siegrist. On the drive home, with a touch of buyer’s remorse, I worried I’d soon double my body weight.

Instead, I’ve shown uncharacteristic restraint, savoring the maple syrup and adhering to the CHG philosophy by experimenting with things like applesauce for my morning oatmeal. And dang if this maple-ginger concoction isn’t the best applesauce I’ve ever had.

Plus, I got to use a trick I learned from my good pal, C. Stick your fresh ginger in the freezer. Then, when you’re ready to use it, take it out and grate away. Ginger is a zillion times easier to grate when frozen, and it’ll keep forever. Wee!

If you’ve never made applesauce before, give this a try. If you’re a pro, then you already know: it’s easy, cheap, and so, so New England in the Fall.


If you like this, you might also dig:

Maple-Ginger Applesauce
Adapted from Apple Sampler by Jan Siegrist
yields about 2 cups; serves 6–8

1 1/2 lb apples (about 4 medium), peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1) Peel, core, and chop the apples. I diced mine, but you don’t need to go to the trouble. They break down nicely as they cook. Just cover with water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

2) Stir and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the maple syrup, ginger, and cinnamon. Simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Science this isn’t.

3) Serve over oatmeal or just eat it straight. It keeps well too. In the fridge, it’ll stick around for at least a couple of weeks (so far, so good) or in the freezer for up to one year. Yeah, like I could resist it for a whole year.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price per Serving
69 calories, .02g fat, 1.3g fiber, $0.34

1 1/2 lb apples: 308 calories, 0g fat, 8g fiber, $1.50
2 tbsp maple syrup: 105 calories, .13g fat, 0g fiber, $.50
1 tsp fresh ginger: 2 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, $.02
1/2 tsp cinnamon: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $.02
TOTAL: 415 calories, .13g fat, 8g fiber, $2.04
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 69 calories, .02g fat, 1.3g fiber, $0.34

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