Just like Pumpkin Spice is to October, so is Maple to March. If you live pretty much anywhere in the rural northeast (as well as some other parts of the country) this time of year is known as one thing…Sugaring Season. Whether you hang a few buckets from your maple trees and boil it down on your stove top, or use the more modern version of pipelines, vacuums, reverse osmosis (to increase sugar content) and evaporators; boiling maple sap into the sweet syrup we use for pancakes, waffles and more, is an age-old tradition in the likes of Vermont, New Hampshire and New York.
Many syrup producers are farmers and use maple syrup production as a means to add income to other agricultural crops and dairy farming. The window is short and the weather is EVERYTHING. Tapping trees can begin anywhere from January through early March, and boiling the sap can last as little as three weeks, or as many as eight, depending on the weather. You don’t want to tap the trees too early, as the sap won’t run in extremely cold temperatures. You need temperatures below freezing (high 20’s Fahrenheit) overnight and daytime temps of high 30’s and 40’s for ideal sap production.
It’s hard work, but oh-so-worth-it! The unique flavor of REAL maple syrup cannot be mimicked and if you haven’t tried it before you’re in for a treat. If you head out for a country drive, you’re sure to see signs for “Real Maple Syrup Sold Here”. Stop in and pick up a quart for your French toast, or some maple cream to spread on an English muffin. Maple candies make a delightful gift, or sweet treat for yourself. Many larger producers also have online ordering and shipping. Join in the Maple Madness…you won’t be sorry!