Maple Cured Bacon: Acquire pork belly (pictured above: 8 lbs.). Cure in fridge for two weeks with 6 tablespoons sea salt, 1/3 cup maple syrup, and 1 1/2 teaspoons curing salt, flipping meat after a week. Rinse, pat dry, and smoke at 150 degrees or lower on your Sapling Smoker for 2 hours. Store in fridge or freezer for at least a day before slicing thin. Cook. Eat. Enjoy!
This is only the beginning. Think of it as a primer for starting to think about thinking about grilling and smoking on the Sapling Party Grill and Sapling Smoker with the maple you made on your Sapling Evaporator. Ready to experience the magic of three machines in one? Here's what the inventor of that three-fer has to say about it:
You've had your Sapling for a few years now. Tell me how you like to use your machine when you are not sugaring.
To start, you should know that the Sapling Party Grill is just the Sapling Evaporator with the pan removed and replaced with three custom grill grates. To make the Sapling Smoker, you simply install the Sapling Smoking Package on the Sapling Grill.
Having said that, both the Grill and Smoker are really effective for preparing large food spreads; we use the Sapling Grill to cook the meats for parties at our home. We use the Sapling Smoker for special meals or to preserve meats. The surface area is extensive. And it's easy to control the temperature for low temperature smoking.
There's significant prep and cleanup time involved, so this is weekend or holiday cooking for us. But we love it.
Give me an idea of the grill space. How big does it feel? How much food can you fit on it?
Let's see, we've fit 14 pounds of pork bellies on our Sapling Grill; 15 pounds of chicken. A 15 pound turkey. 40 hot dogs. At 20 by 30 inches, it's BIG.
To grill, do you use wood or charcoal? How far in advance of cooking do you have to start the fire to grill? And to smoke?
You can grill with wood or with charcoal. If you are using soft wood, wood gets hot quicker and is good for searing. You can be ready to go in 10 minutes or so. Charcoal is going to take you at least 20 minutes to get to grilling temperature. And to smoke, you need a half hour minimum to get your charcoal bed set and your chips smoking.
Can you cold smoke on the Sapling?
We've had temperatures under 150 degrees, but cold smoking is well under 100 degrees. You know, we've never tried, but I suppose you could!
What kinds of temperatures are you looking to achieve on the Sapling Smoker for different kinds of food?
It depends on whether you are cooking or curing. If you are curing bacon, for example, you are looking for 120-130 degrees. If you are cooking chicken to eat, you are looking for more like 250. All those temps are totally doable on the Sapling.
Can you make pizza on the Sapling Grill?
If you have installed the Sapling Smoking Package, yes! We're still perfecting our method, but, by using a large, rectangular pizza stone, and firing the grill up to 400 degrees or so (as measured by a magnetic stove thermometer on the smoker lid), we've made some amazing, amazing pizza. The wood-fired taste is just outrageously good. And we've figured out how to use the maple syrup we made on our Sapling as an ingredient, too.
Wood Fired Veggie Pizza with Maple and Goat Cheese: Make your favorite pizza dough and roll thin. Top with crushed tomato, fresh mozzarella, sliced baby bella mushrooms, baby arugula, and toasted walnuts. Sprinkle with goat cheese and drizzle lightly with maple syrup. Remove baffle from Sapling Smoker and ensure damper is open. Place pizza stone on grates and start fire. Cook covered at 400 degrees or hotter for 10 minutes or until done.
Cool! How do you store your Sapling Party Grill / Sapling Smoker when you are not using it?
Outside, under the Sapling Grill Cover.
How do you get the longest life out of your Sapling Party Grill / Sapling Smoker?
Clean out ashes and brush off dirt every once in a while, and then coat in vegetable oil, inside and out. Keep dry. Sand any blemishes with 100 grit sandpaper and touch up with Sapling Touch Up Paint or the equivalent. You can also use stove blacking.
How does grilling on the Sapling compare to your experience with other grills?
You have to be a bit more patient. You have to take your time and pay attention to what you are doing, then wait until the grill cools before you put it away. But the outcomes are better. The wood flavor is amazing. The food is just so good.
Do you recommend the Sapling Party Grill and the Sapling Smoker, then?
Of course! Yah. Anyone interested in having a multifunctional grill that can do a really nice job sugaring as well should consider the Sapling.
I'll toast to that! Care for a maple sun tea?
Peaches canned in homemade maple syrup: a north-south, east-west delicacy.
My peach tree nearly toppled over with the weight of its fruit this weekend. Which was a big surprise, as I recall my disbelief at the point of its purchase three years ago that one could even grow peaches in Vermont.
Peaches have a special place in my heart. I spent part of my childhood in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. My brothers and I had a babysitter named Linda. She had a homestead way out in Harper's Ferry, where she raised a gaggle of kind, wild boys. Linda kept to the house unless someone needed her but us kids had free reign of the farm. And the peaches. The kind you can barely eat for juiciness. The kind that gets all over your face no matter how tidy you're trying to be. We had peaches many ways at Linda's. But one of the best, on a hot day, was frozen and blended with a little water. Linda called it the peach freeze. It was the taste of summer.
And then there were Grandma Jeanette’s canned peaches. Served for dessert whenever we were in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Perfect halves, flawlessly skinned, in heavy syrup, preserved in half-gallon mason jars. Grandpa Stan fetched them from the cellar slowly and carefully while we anticipated. Brought the prairie summer to any time of the year, over the years, first for my husband, then for us both, and then for our children.
So I picked my peaches this weekend – every last one of them – eating some while still warm from the sun. They weren’t quite the West Virginia peaches or South Dakota peaches of my youth. Nor are they Pennsylvania or Georgia peaches, I’d imagine. But they are fresh. And, this weekend, I canned them in my own homemade maple syrup. Bringing a little Vermont to the peach. Expressing solidarity with peach country. Sending a bit of sweetness south and west, into the past, and into the future.
Here's to hoping someone remembers my peaches fondly someday and passes on the love.
One America Homemade Maple Syrup Peaches
Wash your peaches and freeze for at least one hour on a jelly-roll pan or other sheet pan with a lip. Run under cold water and slip off the skins. Half and pit the peaches, placing them directly into clean jars. Boil a mixture of four-parts water to one-part homemade maple syrup. Pour boiling mixture over peaches to 1/2" of top. Affix lids. Can in a hot water bath for 20 minutes, cool, and store.
On Teaspoon of Sugar, we write about maple sugaring, maple syrup, starting and running a small business, and living the sweet life here in beautiful, downtown Montpelier, Vermont.