“Maple syrup is a unique product made in a limited part of the world, and Ohio is fortunate to be located in the heart of it,” explained Nate Bissell, owner of Bissell Maple Farm and board member of the Ohio Maple Producers Association. Bissell and his colleagues at the Ohio Maple Producers Association want you and your family to visit them to find out how they make this local treasure during the ‘Maple Madness Drive It Yourself Tour,’ which starts this weekend.
Across Ohio, it’s estimated that more than 900 families produce nearly 100,000 gallons of syrup each year, according to Ohio Maple Producers Association statistics. That sweet treat contributes roughly $5 million to the state’s economy each year. “When people come to visit Ohio sugarhouses in March, it improves every aspect of the local economy,” concludes Bissell.
State Representative John Patterson (D-Jefferson) believes the industry is an important resource, too, and so he has introduced a bill to shine a light on Ohio’s efforts. “It’s my hope that by designating March as ‘Maple Syrup Month”, we can bring more awareness to the industry and, in turn, sweeten Ohio’s economy with increased maple tourism,” declared Rep. Patterson.
So why not plan to pack up your family and set out on an adventure to hunt down this local treasure for yourselves? Your trip can start as nearby as Geauga County, where nearly half of the over 40 maple producers participating in the ‘Maple Madness Drive It Yourself Tour’ are located. For just two weekends — March 8th & 9th, 15th & 16th — you and your family can take part in the tour, visiting both Amish and Yankee sugarhouses, as a part of Ohio’s largest agricultural tour. And you’ll be building sweet family memories along the way. Visit ohiomaple.org for details and hours.
Chef Tim McCoy, Education Director at the International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute (ICASI) in Chesterland, shared a taste of maple at a recent event at the Red Maple Inn in Burton. Using maple syrup in cooking is not a new experience for the seasoned professional. “I like the taste of maple syrup and have used it in my cooking before,” he shared. “But I have never met a producer of syrup before, so that part was really cool!” Chef McCoy has graciously shared a favorite maple recipe for you to try after your own Maple Madness tour.
Maple-Bourbon Braised Pork Shoulder Sliders
(Courtesy of Chef Tim McCoy, ICASI Education Director)
Yield: 2 Dozen Sliders
1 Boneless pork shoulder roast (about 4 lbs)
1 recipe of Maple-Bourbon Marinade
vegetable oil (as needed)
2 large onions, peeled, sliced
2 quarts water
salt & pepper to taste
24 slider buns
Marinate the pork shoulder roast overnight with the maple-bourbon marinade. The next day, remove pork shoulder from marinade and blot dry with a paper towel. Keep the remaining marinade for use in a later step.
In a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, brown pork shoulder in vegetable oil on all sides until nicely caramelized. Add onions to the pan and cook briefly until softened. Add marinade and water to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cover pan and cook in a 325 degree F oven until meat is tender and falls apart easily when tested with a fork. Be sure to check the pork shoulder frequently and add more water if necessary.
When pork is done, remove it from the braising liquid, cool it, and then shred. Strain braising liquid through a kitchen strainer and add it to the shredded pork. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, reheat pork and portion onto slider buns. If the pork has too much liquid, cook it until the liquid reduces. If the pork is too dry, add a little water when reheating.
Yield: 3 Cups
1 cup pure maple syrup
½ cup bourbon
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup orange juice, fresh
1tbsp. orange zest, grated
1tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. dijon mustard
¼ cup soy sauce
Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.