Cold nights and warm sunny days are when all of us begin to wake up from winter — including maple trees.
The trees need freezing night temperatures and daytime thaws for pressure to develop in the tree and make sap “run” or drip out when tapped. Farmers like Stephen Horner collect this sap and boil it down into syrup.
Last week, I had a chance to talk to Stephen, owner of Horner’s Corner, a maple syrup and fruit farm located about 70 miles east of Minneapolis in Boyceville, Wisconsin. Stephen has been “mapling” for over 25 years, and he says the season is just getting underway.
“It looks like we are in for a good run for the next week or more. We have great hopes for the season despite the slow start,” explained Stephen. “Historically, March 21 is the average start date for this region. All but one season in the last decade has started well before the equinox.”
You can find Horner’s Corner maple syrup, locally grown root vegetables and spring greens at the Mill City Farmers Market’s remaining indoor winter markets on April 14 and April 28. The Winter Market takes place 10 a.m.–1 p.m. inside the Mill City Museum with over 30 local farmers, food makers and artists.
Maple mustard roasted rutabaga and turnips
By market chef Beth Jones
Turnips and rutabagas are often considered the ugly ducklings of the food world. But given some love and sweetness with a bit of spring maple syrup, some rich roasted onions and the smokiness of bacon, these highly nutritious roots can become the highlight of your meal. Leave out the bacon and you’ve got a gluten-free, vegan dish.
Feel free to substitute a variety of roots in this recipe — beets, parsnips or carrots. In the summer and fall, wash and save the green tops of the roots and add them to the pan to wilt for the last minute of roasting.
This is a great dish to serve hot with a roast chicken, as an easy main dish topped with two fried eggs or chilled and served as a salad with local microgreens.
- 2 small-medium turnips, peeled, medium dice
- 2 small-medium rutabagas, peeled, medium dice
- 1 large sweet onion, peeled, medium dice
- 1-2 Tablespoons sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 grinds of black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Horner’s Corner maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon grainy mustard
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 4 slices bacon from Sunshine Harvest Farm, chopped and fried until crisp (optional)
Preheat the oven to 475. Lightly oil a large baking sheet. Toss the turnips, rutabagas and onions with the sunflower oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20–30 minutes, turning once or twice with a spatula for even browning.
In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup, mustard and cider vinegar. Take the sheet pan out of the oven and pour the maple mixture over the vegetables. (Be careful — it may splatter!) If using the green tops of the vegetables, add them to the sheet pan at this time. Stir the vegetables and return to the oven for 1 minute to caramelize. Stir in the bacon and serve hot with roasted chicken or fried eggs. Or, if serving as a salad, chill completely and top with