VPR Cafe: Maple Recipes From Vermont Farmers

Mar 31, 2017

It's a hectic time of year for Vermont dairy farmers who also operate sugar houses during maple syrup season.

Food writer, Melissa Pasanen, shares "sugaring" memories from a couple of farmers who also provide recipes for Maple Crackers and Maple Tongue Pickles.

To experience the wonder of maple season first hand, consider visiting The Vermont Maple Festival in St. Albans April 28-30 or St. Johnsbury's World Maple Festival April 29.

Sarah Putnam Maple Crackers

Sarah Putnam of Putnam Hill Farm in Newbury, Vermont created this sweet-salty snack cracker using the family’s maple syrup for her children when they were small. Her son, Dustin, now runs the maple operation under the name Chamberlain Hill Maples.

These crackers are great with cheese, or with butter and jam. The thinner you roll them out, the crisper they’ll be, but don’t sweat it – they’re good on the slightly thicker side, too.

Note: I used King Arthur white whole wheat flour so my crackers came out a little darker and wheatier than Sarah’s original recipe would made with all-purpose; I recommend maybe half and half. If you decide to try using the slightly thirstier white whole wheat flour, add an extra tablespoon of water.

2 ½ cups flour

½ teaspoon fine salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into ¼-inch cubes

¼ cup pure maple syrup

¼ cup water

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

About two tablespoons coarse kosher salt or flake sea salt such as Maldon, or more to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper, or lightly grease them. Combine flour and fine salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse once to mix.

Add butter cubes and use six or seven short pulses to blend until the mixture forms mostly even crumbs; a few larger bits of butter are OK.

Whisk together maple syrup, water and vanilla extract and add to flour mixture. Pulse another five to seven times just until dough comes together in large clumps. Place about half the dough on a lightly floured counter and roll into a rough rectangle as thin as you can, ideally about 1/3-inch thick.

Trim edges to make an even rectangle. Sprinkle dough evenly with about 1 tablespoon coarse or flake salt. Give dough a final light roll to press salt into it and to get to about ¼-inch thickness.

Cut dough into roughly 1 1/2 -inch squares. Place on cookie sheets and bake seven to nine minutes until golden brown at the edge and dry to the touch. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes about 60 1 ½-inch crackers.

Maple Tongue Pickles

Don’t worry they are not made with tongues. Please do note though that I have not tested this recipe.

Many old farm families made tongue pickle; sometimes called "dog’s tongue" pickle. They are actually made from very large cucumbers that have turned yellow, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeds scooped out. They are then soaked after which they become limp and resemble tongues.

Peel nine pounds of ripe cucumbers. Slice lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Slice them crosswise in half about 4-5 inches in length. Soak slices in a large cooking pot in ½ cup pickling salt and water to cover overnight.

In the morning, bring pot of cucumbers and salted water to a boil and then boil for 5 minutes. Drain them.

In a large non-reactive pot, combine:

3 cups vinegar, either white or cider

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cloves

4 cups dark maple syrup

Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Add drained cucumbers and cook at a strong simmer just until translucent. Fill clean canning jars and process as you normally would.

Melissa Pasanen is a freelance writer and food editor for Vermont Life magazine.

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