If you and/or your kids have grown up drizzling generous doses of amber-colored high fructose corn syrup over your stack of pancakes in the morning, chances are you don’t know what you’re missing!
But the folks in Geauga County (Ohio’s unofficial maple headquarters, home to the annual Geauga County Maple Festival) do, and they — along with maple producers throughout the state — would like to make sure you aren’t selling yourself short.
If there’s one truth I discovered this month in my quest to hunt down signature “maple” foods in the Buckeye State, it’s that Ohio is proud of its maple syrup.
After I sent an email to a member of the Ohio Maple Producers Association (OMPA)to track down special maple dishes (entrees, sides, desserts or other) my inbox was flooded with notes from OMPA members passing along their favorite recipes.
While I don’t have the space to share them all here, what I took away from the experience was that maple syrup, to local producers, isn’t just something you pour on pancakes — it’s something that runs in a person’s veins. And if you’re looking to taste the goodness for yourself, here are a few starting places:
1. Hot off the press…er, tap. Experience the maple sugaring process from beginning to end by stopping at one of the locations here or embarking on the Maple Madness Driving Trail for demonstrations and samples of maple syrup in its purest form. (Above: Maple syrup sampling at Dawes Arboretum, Newark.)
2. Pancakes. Head to Pancake Town USA (also known as Burton) for all-you-can-eat pancake breakfasts in March and April. Don’t forget to stop by the Burton Log Cabin (above), where you can sample a number of maple products and purchase some to take home. (Our fudge didn’t last long.)
3. Maple chicken wings, Maple City Taps & Eatery. Choose from sweet, hot or BBQ, or try a maple chicken sandwich — complete with pineapple slices — at this Chardon eatery.
4. Sap dogs, Richards Maple Products. This century-old family business offers everything from maple coffee to maple popcorn, but be sure to stop by the sugarhouse for one of these hot dogs cooked in maple sap and served with maple mustard or maple barbecue sauce.
5. DIY. So you’ve been to a sugaring and brought home a gallon of local syrup. Does this mean you’re going to eat pancakes every morning for the rest of your life? Of course not! Take a hint from proud OMPA farmers and experiment in your own kitchen. Our maple chicken made with Ohio maple syrup was a huge hit with kids and grown-ups alike.
…and of course, we tested it on pancakes, too.
Click maple sugaring events for more sweet Ohio getaways. Ohio. Find It Here!