By Wendy Elliott
This spring looks like a strong maple syrup season. Sap started flowing about three weeks ago for the largest maple syrup producer in the Valley.
“The season is shaping up well,” said Leanne Dobrota of Hutchinson’s Maple Products.
At the beginning, maple syrup is light in colour. As the season progresses, she added, the colour gets darker and the maple flavor becomes more intense.
As of March 15, the trees in Lake Paul had already produced the equivalent of the entire output of 2012.
“That’s 38 to 40 barrels,” she said. “And we’re only two weeks in.”
A barrel holds 38 gallons of syrup.
The process is very weather dependent. Dobrota’s brother, Chris Hutchinson, and his wife, Anna, bought their farm six years ago and they have added a 10-year lease on Crown land. They have 60,000 taps in operation on 1,500 acres of land.
Dobrota noted there is no retail operation at the farm. In fact, until July, all the syrup was sold to other producers in Nova Scotia. Plans are being forged to enhance the production carried out with a state of the art facility.
Hutchinson’s sell their syrup at a variety of farm markets, Foodland and SaveEasy stores on the South Shore, Valley and Metro Halifax. Other products include maple butter and sugar.
Dobrota has been concentrating on marketing maple syrup, so she met with Kingstec chef Peter Dewar about the use of maple syrup in his culinary classes. Early in the year, she took a four-litre jug to the NSCC campus, and it must have inspired Dewar.
The chef, who also works as a consultant, began brainstorming. Dewar took several weeks and created chef-inspired infused products in five flavours.
“He’s a very creative thinker,” she said. “It’s been a whirlwind since January.”
Called Pure, the products will be launched at the Saltscapes Expo, which will take place April 26–28 in Halifax.
These are unique products, said Dobrota, meant to be added to a sauce or drizzled over desserts. They are designed as specialty or gift items.
The five flavours include vanilla, cinnamon and star anise; lavender and chai; cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; chipolte and lemon grass; and a maple ginger apple cider gastrique.
Dewar will be at Saltscapes offering cooking demonstrations to some of the 30,000 people who attend. Co-owner Anna Hutchinson will also take part.
What is a gastrique?
A thick sauce in classic French cuisine that consists of a reduction of vinegar, wine and sugar. A gastrique is used to round out flavours in a dish, and is either served with meat or seafood, or used as a base for other sauces, such as one with tomatoes.