Since tomorrow is Maine Maple Sunday, and I’m too excited to think about anything else (but my new kitchen is still in too much of a state of disarray to actually make anything this evening) here are a list of some of my absolute favorite Maine maple products. Some of them are very local, meaning that you might have to make a trip to a farm stand, farmer’s market or specialty store, and that can make them a little difficult to find, but most are available in your local Hannaford or natural foods store, and they are all worth the effort of tracking down, if you’re a fan of maple like I am.
Worry not, this isn’t in lieu of a recipe post; that will come very soon, when I’ve had a bit more time to sort out my kitchen.
Swallowtail Farm & Creamery’s Maple Yogurt & Kefir – http://swallowtailfarmandcreamery.com/
These have been among my favorites for a long time; the farm itself is in North Whitefield, right around the corner from my childhood home in Windsor, which makes it even more special, even if I’ve only ever been able to find it at specialty shops and farmer’s markets. Their website says they’re opening a farm store in May, which means I will just have one more excuse to visit my mother’s house. The kefir especially pairs really well with the next item on the list.
GrandyOats’ Mainely Maple Granola – http://grandyoats.com/
Consisting mainly of oats, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and walnuts, and flavored with maple syrup, this is a tasty granola with a great texture that I like to combine with raisins or dried cranberries and maple kefir or yogurt for a quick, healthy breakfast. GrandyOats, located in Brownfield, makes a variety of granolas, trail mixes and roasted nuts, most of which can be readily found in grocery stores.
Beast Feast Maine’s Maple Chipotle BBQ Sauce — http://www.beastfeastmaine.net
Beast Feast sauces, rubs and extracts are made in Bridgton, by a registered master Maine guide. Their Maple Chipotle BBQ sauce is sweet, spicy, smoky and savory all at once. My adventures on Amazon have also taught me that Beast Feast Maine produces a variety of hot pepper-infused maple syrups, including chipotle, habanero and ghost pepper (bhut jolokia.) I have yet to talk Ian into letting me buy a bottle of ghost pepper maple syrup, but I haven’t given up hope yet.
Maine Root Maple Lemonade – http://maineroot.com/
This lemonade tastes primarily like maple, but in a refreshing and not at all cloying way like you would expect from a beverage with such a strong maple flavor. The sweetness is subtle, and it’s refreshing without being too tart, either. It’s kind of dangerous to know that this is available, actually, because I have a feeling that now that I know it exists, I’m going to buy it a lot.
Rollins Orchards’ Grade B Maple Syrup – http://www.rollinsorchards.com/
I always recommend using Grade B syrup for cooking with, because it is tapped and boiled later in the season, and as a result, is more intensely flavorful than the Grade A Amber or Fancy that you would put on your pancakes. The Grade B I got from Rollins Orchard’s stand at the Ohio Street Farmer’s Market in Bangor, in a simple Mason jar, was the darkest, richest syrup I have ever bought. It’s down to the dregs now, and I’m already in mourning. I might have to take a trip to Garland the next time I’m back in town.
LaBrees’ Bakery Maple Mini Cupcakes – http://www.labrees.com/
The ingredient list says they use ‘natural and artificial maple and vanilla flavors,’ but these get listed here anyway, because they are addictive, like maple-flavored crack. I was gleeful to see that Hannaford is one of few retailers who recognize that March is maple season, and each of their stores I’ve been in lately has had a few six-packs of these babies on their maple display. I won’t tell you how many of those six-packs came home with me, or how few of the cupcakes I shared with Ian — but then, just by my saying that, I probably don’t need to.
Wicked Whoopies’ Maple Whoopie Pie – https://www.wickedwhoopies.com
The only way you can get more Maine than a maple whoopie pie is if you have it for dessert after a lobster dinner, with a side of blueberries, and wash the whole mess down with a Moxie. The best part, for me, is that they are so huge that I can’t eat a whole one in one sitting, which makes it a great treat to share, or an even better one to come back to a few hours later for a repeat performance.
Raye’s Spring Maple Mustard – http://rayesmustard.com/
This is one of my new favorite mustards; it’s as good on a red hot dog as it is in a glaze for baked salmon, or a dip for a fresh-baked pretzel. It’s got the tang of mustard, and the sweetness and depth of maple; how could you go wrong? Raye’s also makes a maple horseradish mustard, for those who like their mustard with a little extra zip.
Siberia Farms’ Maple Milk – http://www.siberiafarms.com/
Available in pints and half gallons, Siberia Farms’ maple milk is so creamy and rich, you might not be able to drink it all in one sitting, but if you’re a maple lover like I am, once you put it down for a moment, you won’t be able to stop going back for a sip here and there until suddenly, it’s all gone, and you’ll start seeking it out whenever Siberia Farms, located in Hermon, is at a farmer’s market near you.
Maine’s Own Organic Chocolate Milk – http://moomilkco.com/
This is more of an honorable mention, because it doesn’t really taste like maple at all. What it tastes like is delicious chocolate milk, and there’s a really good reason for that — it is! And it’s sweetened with Maine maple syrup instead of cane or corn sweeteners, which makes it that much more wholesome. And it’s so new, it doesn’t even have a cow on the packaging yet.
I hope that you seek out these and more Maine maple products this weekend, and I’d love to hear about your personal favorites.