Friday, March 20, 2009

Maine Maple Sunday

Don't you just love maple syrup on your pancakes, waffles, in your baked beans? I'm talking about the real stuff, not the flavored kind. This weekend, you can go out and about in Maine and visit Sugar Shacks and find out just how Maple Syrup is made. I have visited a few sugar houses in my past, and I am always fascinated by the small wooden structures with steam billowing from the roofs, the sap inside boiling down from watery to thick. I know from these visits that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one small gallon of syrup. That is a lot of work! Sap to be collected, wood to chop and feed into the wood fired stove that boils that sap down. It is an impressive process.

Once, when my husband and I lived in CT, we had two huge Maple trees on our property, so of course I had tap them. We lived in a beautiful valley in the "quiet corner" of CT and there were lots of Maple trees running through this valley. Many Maple trees were already tapped in our area, belonging to Sweet Sue's Sugar Shack only about 4 miles away. We got so much sap from our two giant trees, we ended up buying a new trash barrel and filling it up to the top. We dug out an old wood stove we had in storage and my husband set up set near the still sleeping vegetable garden. We proceeded to boil the sap down to syrup. It took quiet some time, but I was having a blast. I was in my element. Making my own syrup. Unfortunately, the neighbors where trying to sell their house...and there I was in overalls, stirring a pot on a wood stove in the backyard as they were showing their house. This is when we realized we really needed to move to the country. We ended up with about 1/2 a gallon of sweet, thick, and delicious maple syrup.

Supporting your local farmer is one of the best thing you can do in your community. Here is some information I found on the Get Real Get Maine website.

MAINE MAPLE SUNDAY ~ March 22, 2009

Join Maine’s maple producers each spring as they celebrate Maine Maple Sunday. It’s the day when sugar makers around the State open the doors of their sugar houses for the public to join them in their rites of spring – making maple syrup.

Most sugar houses offer free tasting and live demonstrations of how syrup is produced, from tap to table. Many offer a variety of other treats and activities, including syrup on pancakes or ice cream, sugarbush tours, sleigh or wagon rides, live music and lots more.

The Maine Maple Sunday event, always the fourth Sunday in March, is often expanded to additional days, or held earlier or later at some sugar houses. Be sure to read the description after each listing and call ahead. Many sugar houses are open all season and will arrange special tours and demonstrations for groups on other days as well. Call them to make arrangements.

Here is the link to check for a participating sugar house in Maine.

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