Ask the Cook: Maple Syrup Treats

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ask the Cook is a regular segment where AbbyLee Cook takes students on a culinary journey with tips, tricks, and recipes to help them overcome their fear of the kitchen and teach them the basics of cooking and baking.

As hard as it may be to believe after the past few weeks of crazy blizzards, spring is just around the corner. For many New Brunswickers, the end of winter signals an exciting time – maple syrup harvesting!

New Brunswick has the third largest maple syrup industry in the world, producing about 1.8 million kgs of maple syrup per year. The climate, soil and forests in the province give the syrup a distinct taste that is world renown.

Sap is collected from a maple tree when winter changes to spring and the tree begins to convert its stored starch into sap. The sap is collected and sent to a sugar shack, where it is boiled to remove water and caramelize its sugars. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup, and it takes a sugar expert to know when it has reached the right consistency.

New Brunswick is home to many sugar bushes and maple producers, all of whom are very passionate about their businesses. Many of them participate in several maple syrup festivals all over the province, which are generally held at this time of year. A favourite activity at these festivals, as most locals will know, is pouring maple syrup onto fresh snow and rolling it around a stick as a sweet treat.

Another sweet treat available for a more adult crowd will be the New Brunswick ‘Tapped In’ promotion, starting in March of this year. Local sugar bushes and breweries have paired up to create a signature brew that will be featured. Keep an eye out!

Fun Facts

  • Maple Syrup was used by abolitionists as a sugar substitute to protest the use of slaves in cane fields.
  • An Aboriginal legend relates that Nokomis, Mother Earth, was the first to collect a wonderful syrup that was dripping from the maple trees. As her grandson, Manabush, did not want humans to get lazy by easily collecting this treasure, he decided to pour a large amount of water into the maples to dilute the syrup.
  • Maple syrup contains essential nutrients such as calcium, iron and thiamine

Recipe of the Week: Maple Pancetta Brussel Sprouts with Goat’s Cheese

Can be: vegetarian (with substitutions), vegan (with substitutions), lactose-free (with exemptions).
This recipe is Gluten-Free.

Image via Serious Eats

2 cups of brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut into halves
½ cup of goat’s cheese (crumbled)
1 package of cubed pancetta (or substitute cranberries)
4 tbsp. of maple syrup
4 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar (optional, but recommended)
1 tbsp. of vegetable oil
Salt & Pepper to taste


  1. Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add Brussel sprouts and cook for about 4 minutes, or until brussel sprouts become a brilliant green color.
  3. Immediately drain them into a colander and put them into an ice bath or run very cold water over them to stop the cooking process. Set your brussel sprouts aside.
  4. Add oil into a medium sized saucepan and heat on your stove’s medium heat setting.
  5. Once heated, add pancetta and stir occasionally for approximately 5 minutes until cooked. Add brussel sprouts and balsamic vinegar. Allow your brussel sprouts to absorb the liquid, which should take 5 – 10 minutes.
  6. Next, add the maple syrup and the salt & pepper. Sauté for about 5 – 7 minutes.
  7. Remove from stove and put brussel sprouts into a serving dish. Sprinkle on some goat’s cheese, and enjoy!

Ask the Cook is an 8-week segment by AbbyLee Cook. Abby has a diploma in Nutrition and Foodservice Management from the College of the North Atlantic and is currently in her third year studying Applied Management in Hospitality and Tourism. She is a trained cook who has worked under award-winning chefs in St John’s, Newfoundland. Abby has a passion for cooking and baking and enjoys educating her peers and younger generations about food and tourism. She also does custom-order baking in her free time. Any suggestions or questions relating to the culinary world can be sent to

References used:
New Brunswick Maple Syrup Association Inc. (n.d.). Retrieved from New Brunswick Maple Syrup Association Inc.: New Brunswick Maple Syrup Association Inc.

Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.