Vermont Maple Candy
Maple candy, or maple sugar candy, whichever name you use (we've heard just about everything), is comprised of 100% maple syrup with no additives besides time, temperature, and some stirring. Our maple candy here at Carman Brook Farm is handmade in small batches from our family’s sugarhouse kitchen in northern Vermont.
We think it's nice to give a gift that you know isn't loaded with preservatives (maple syrup/products are naturally shelf stable due to lack of moisture), or struggle to read a label loaded with fine print requiring you to strain your eyes to know the ingredients. Our candy maker is producing a new batch near daily to ensure the freshest product is delivered to your doorstep. Also, be sure to keep an eye out, as throughout the year we have unique shapes available applicable to the holiday.
How to make maple candy?
Using only a few gallons of maple syrup at a time to control the quality to our exacting standards, the syrup is boiled to 35 degrees above the boiling point of water. Following this, it rests a bit and is poured slowly into our candy making machine. Poured slowly is the key as it is extremely important to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Sugar crystal control is what separates candy that has the smooth texture you prefer, to a grainy finish that satisfies no-one! An auger in the candy machine stirs the syrup and as it flows from the machine smoothly where we catch the quickly setting maple syrup in candy molds of various shapes.
How long does maple candy last?
Maple candy is never better than the day it is made. As we mentioned, we make our maple candy weekly and rotate it off the rack every other week. Over time sugar candy will start to dry out, you can keep it in the fridge or the freezer to preserve freshness. A good general rule to follow is to get what you will consume as candy in a month’s time and use up any leftovers in a bowl of oatmeal or in a hot beverage. Over the past year we've been experimenting with a 1/2 lb. in the freezer that we taste about every other month, so far (about 9 months in) we've had satisfactory results in taste and texture. I plan to update this section in the future with my final findings.
How does temperature affect maple syrup candy?
Outside of the findings explained in the previous paragraph regarding cold storage, humidity has a greater effect on quality than just about anything else. If the conditions are too humid, the candy may start to reabsorb water from the air. This causes the candy to start weeping and stick together. Though, I might add that this requires and extremely humid event and isn't something we hear about too often. The good news is that it will not affect the flavor. If this happens, don't fret! There are still plenty of uses for a clump of candy, we've grated it over French or hot buttered toast, used it as a sweetener for our coffee, as well as broken off chunks and eaten them as we would candy. If you remember one thing, cool and dry storage is the best for the storing of maple candy.
New flavors of maple candy!
Maple candy is typically made with the lightest grade of maple syrup, Golden Delicate Taste. This grade is what sugar makers have been using for years to produce these maple confections, and if you had these as a kid that's more than likely what you remember. For the maple syrup to set up to the correct consistency after the proper cooking and cooling procedures, it must have the right amount of invert sugars. Typically, the optimum levels are consistently found in the lighter grade of syrup.
At our farm, we're always looking for a fresh take on traditional maple recipes, and with that we have a loyal customer base that prefers our darker grades of syrup. With this in mind we decided to break the norms of the industry and figure out a way to produce a darker syrup based maple candy. After some research and development, we finally found a method to develop a consistent, and more importantly, up to our standards maple candy using Dark Robust Taste maple syrup. The dark candy has a much more full bodied maple flavor and contrasts beautifully with the lighter candy if you select a mixed 1/2 or 1 lb. box of candy.
One of the benefits of being produced with nothing but 100% pure maple syrup, is that maple candy retains the gluten free and vegan qualities of its original form. Maple syrup is produced from tree sap tapped in the spring time, then boiled down to 40 times less than its original volume with no additives. As you can see in the next paragraph, the process to turn maple syrup into maple candy is relatively straight forward, with the only secrets being the handling procedures to control sugar crystal formation, ensuring the smoothest candy possible. Carman Brook Farm candy is sustainably harvested and produced using all natural tree sap, our tapping practices ensure our trees grow uninterrupted throughout their entire natural lifespan.