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Dining & Nightlife

Time for Maple Syrup and Banana Cakes

Windjammer Captain

Barry King

For more than 20 years, Barry has been at the helm of the Schooner Mary Day. Navigating, voyaging and guiding has made him a natural captain who takes pleasure in sharing his quests. He believes Maine is defined by its natural setting, especially the coast. Always longing for adventure, Barry roams the great waters exploring tucked away places on and off the map. Navigate through Barry's Windjammer blog.


Good morning everyone. Today being the vernal equinox, spring is here and so with it the rising hope of warmer weather and the rising sap in the trees. Knowing that winter has officially passed, most folks look for flowers. Our crocuses (is it croci??) are still under a few feet of snow. It is time to tap, and time to get the sap boiler up and running. There is still plenty of snow in the woods and around our house. The driveway is ankle deep in mud, the songbirds are showing up at the feeder, ole man porky pine has taken up residence in one of the kids’ climbing trees and the sap is flowing. Maine Maple Syrup weekend is just a few days away!

At a ratio of 40 gallons of sap to 1 gallon of syrup, our red maples in the dooryard produce what we fondly call “liquid gold.” Our fuel for the sap boiler will be free range organic pine and hemlock limbs taken down for us during the ice storm at Christmas. The real wood-fired professionals use hardwoods such as maple, oak, beech and birch — cut, split and stacked a year or so ago.

Another tradition we have here is pancake Sunday. Sawyer wanted to share with all of you, one of his favorite recipes.

Banana Cakes

Makes approx. twelve 4” cakes

6 T. butter, 1 c. flour, 2 T. sugar, 2 t. baking powder, 1 t. salt, 1 very ripe banana, peeled, 1 c. milk, 2 eggs, 1 t. vanilla and a lot of maple syrup warmed on the back of the woodstove.

Cut the butter into 3 equal parts. Melt two of the pieces in a pan and save the third part for cooking the pancakes. Mix in a bowl the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mash the banana in a different bowl. Add the milk, eggs and vanilla to the banana. Then mix the dry mix to the banana mix. Batter should be a little lumpy. Spoon batter on griddle and cook until a few holes form on top of each pancake, and flip. They should rise a little and turn golden brown. Serve hot with warm syrup. Enjoy!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Editor's Notes

California has its wine country and Maine has its maple sugaring forests. Just as Napa’s variance in weather and terrain affects the flavor of each year’s vintage, Maine’s climate conditions impart their flavor on that year’s sap supply. Become a maple connoisseur by going on sugarhouse tours during maple production season: February through mid-April.

Maine Maple Sunday is always the fourth Sunday in March although some sugarhouses offer events for both Saturday and Sunday. Join Mainers as they celebrate the mighty Maine maple through sugaring demonstrations, pancake breakfasts, free samples and creative maple recipes (maple snow and smoked maple cheese, anyone?)

The entire state comes together to celebrate their maple sugaring heritage on Maine Maple Sunday, so check the Maine Maple Producers Association’s website and Visit Maine’s listing of events for more information on which sugarhouses to visit.

Here are some sugarhouse suggestions that host events on Maine Maple Sunday and are open throughout the year:

  • Kinney’s Sugarhouse in Knox: This certified organic sugarhouse and farm offers many sweet maple treats including maple sugar, maple flavored coffee, cinnamon maple sugar and maple cream.
  • Jillson’s Farm and Sugarhouse in Sabattus: Maple products include maple kettle corn, maple taffy, maple candy (ask for the lobster-shaped candy!) as well as seasonal farm fresh produce and CSAs. Jillson’s also serves “breakfast on the farm” on Saturday and Sunday mornings during winter and spring.
  • Bob’s Sugarhouse in Dover-Foxcroft: Proprietor Bob Moore keeps his sugarhouse and maple store open year-round, and sells syrup in a variety of small elegant bottles perfectly sized for hostess gifts and party favors. In addition to syrup, Bob offers maple walnut fudge, maple barbeque seasoning, and maple sprinkles.