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Appetites: Ringing in spring with sweet maple syrup

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Maple syrup
A finished bottle of maple syrup sits alongside empty bottles at Camp Aquila on Star Lake near Maplewood State Park in rural Minnesota.
Ann Arbor Miller for MPR News File

Recent snow aside, Spring is the season when tree sap runs between the overnight freezes and daytime thaws. 

So, our Appetites regular, and co-author (with Sean Sherman) of the James Beard Award Finalist cookbook "The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen," Beth Dooley came into the studio to tell us how to try making your own syrup.

It starts with tapping maple trees for sap — it takes a lot of sap.

"It takes about 40 gallons of the raw sap," Dooley said.

Then you boil the sap down, which takes a lot of time. You're basically evaporating the water out of the sap to get to the sugars, she said.

To listen to their conversation, click the audio player above.

Maple Glazed Brussels with Hazelnuts

Serves 4 to 6

These make a terrific starter,  great side dish, and terrific topping for pizza. This works equally nicely with broccoli and cauliflower, too.

1-1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts 1/4 cup olive oil 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt Several grinds black pepper 2 tablespoons maple syrup 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove any yellow or brown outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts and cut in half. In a large bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts, oil, salt and pepper together. Spread onto a large baking sheet. Roast until the Brussels sprouts begin to become brown and crisp. Drizzle with the maple syrup and turn coat the Brussels sprouts. Continue roasting until very tender and dark brown, about 15 more minutes. (Total roasting time will be about 45 minutes.) Toss in the hazelnuts. Serve hot.