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Maple Pie Recipe (with Navy Beans) and How to Make Maple Syrup

May 18, 2010
Maple Syrup - The Real Deal

Maple Syrup - The Real Deal

Have you ever had maple pie?  Have you ever had maple pie made with beans?  If no – HURRY! Run to your pantry, gather ingredients, and take a leap of faith. I kid you not, this pie is the most delicious I’ve tasted in a long time.   And my 6 year-old-paid the pie a supreme compliment:  “It tastes like pancakes!”  (her favorite food).

Meet Wendy Casey, my guest blogger.  She’s going to teach us how to tap a maple tree, boil the sap, and make maple syrup.  Wendy does not live in the woods.  She does this all in her urban back yard.

Not only that, Wendy also raises her own hens for eggs.  She generously gave me maple syrup and eggs for this pie. Locavore to the extreme – you go girl!

How to Make Maple Syrup

by Wendy Casey

You know my type: the budding locavore at that dangerous stage where I like to talk about it. A lot. I’m a starry-eyed evangelist, rhapsodizing about compost. But seriously, you guys, making your very own maple syrup is AWESOME.

Making syrup takes four steps (not counting the bragging stage):

  1. Tap maples,
  2. Gather and store sap until you’re ready to…
  3. Cook the sap down, and then
  4. Strain and finish the syrup.

Tapping the maples

Get a terrific breakdown of each step in the process at tapmytrees.com. My sister found the tapping kit we use at yankeegrocery.com. The kit includes taps, recipes, a candy thermometer, and all the instructions you’ll need in a book called Backyard Sugarin’ (the apostrophe makes all the difference).

You can tap any variety of maple in your neighborhood to make your syrup. Ours comes from the red maple across the street and the silver across our back alley, and the neighbors each get a bottle of the finished product in exchange for letting us traipse onto their property.

Create your own sugar bush when outdoor temperatures are consistently below freezing at night and above freezing during the day – in Minnesota, that’s usually a week or two in March. Trees less than 25” in diameter should have one tap, but larger trees can easily supply two to four taps. Trees suck up water as fast as possible during the day as they prepare for spring, so the sap flows faster during this time than at any other time during the year – a 5-gallon bucket might easily fill in a single day. It’s far less intense for the tree to be tapped than it is for you to donate blood (there’s an appetizing analogy), and any hole you’ve made will heal quickly heal over when you remove the tap.

Gathering sap

Sap is nature’s own sugar water. The first time I tapped a tree, I’d expected the sap to be thicker, or have some color to it, or something, but it looks and smells just like water. Keep your collected sap outside or in any cool place up to two weeks. You’ll need a ratio of anywhere from 30:1 to 50:1 to make syrup, so keep that in mind when you decide when to begin cooking it.

Cooking Down Sap

Cooking Down Sap

Cooking it down

Here’s where it gets good. You’re ready for this stage when the outdoor temperatures stay above freezing most of the night, or a cold snap breaks your heart. That’s when the sap stops running.

Cooking down sap means a lot of steam, so choose your method wisely: stove or fire. If you choose the stove, make sure your kitchen is well ventilated. With a fire, coat the outside of your pot with soap to keep it shiny afterward. Go ahead and boil the sap, as long as you’re on hand to stir it to prevent scorching or boil-overs. If you plan to wander away, keep the flame low and the sap at a lively simmer. Periodically, strain the stiff foam off the top with a sieve. When the sap starts thicken, top it off with fresh sap… repeat until you’re out of sap our out of room in the pot.

Straining and finishing syrup

Finishing the syrup over the stove creates a consistent and clean finished product. Line a sieve or colander with cheesecloth, and pour what you have through it into a large clean sauce pot. Simmer the syrup until it’s as thick as you like, then allow it to cool.

Sanitize bottles by submerging them in a safe solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water) for at least 10 minutes, then let them dry completely.

Fill the bottles, cap them tightly, and start bragging. Now you know why they charge $3 an ounce for this stuff at the grocery store, but you’ll never want to buy it again.

Maple Pie

serves 10
Recipe adapted from “What Smells So Good“”

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (1.5 cups) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) salt
  • 1/2 cup (0.5 cup) butter
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 1 cup well cooked (almost to mush) navy beans [rinsed and drained]
  • 1/2 cup (0.5 cup) B grade (extra dark) maple syrup [do NOT use artificial maple syrup]
  • 2 teaspoons maple extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup (0.33 cup) brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (0.33 cup) melted butter
  • 1/2 cup  (0.5 cup) raisins

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Stir flour and salt together.
  3. Cut in 1/2 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse mealy crumbs.
  4. Add water and gently combine to form a dough. Add more water by tablespoons if necessary. Do not overwork!
  5. Roll out and press into a 9″ pie tin.
  6. Puree beans in food processor or blender with maple syrup and maple extract until smooth.
  7. Add eggs, sugar and margarine and mix until well blended.
  8. Sprinkle raisins in bottom of pie crust. Pour filling on top and smooth.
  9. Bake pie for 35 to 40 minutes.
Homemade Pie Crust

Homemade Pie Crust

Maple Pie

Maple Pie - my precious

Everybody in our family loved this pie. A huge thanks to Sarah from “What Smells So Good” for allowing me to tap her cooking genius and borrow her recipe for this post.  My version is not vegan, but be sure to visit Sarah’s vegan version of Creamy Maple Pie.

What do you think about Maple Pie made with beans?  Will you try this one?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 19, 2010 7:42 am

    Wow! The pie looks delicious. Maybe I’ll try it sometime. I also want to make maple syrup.

  2. May 19, 2010 2:22 pm

    It looks stellar!! I think I just may have to make this again, and soon! Wonder how it would be using chickpeas, honey and chocolate chips this time…

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