Hosted by the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association, Maple Sugaring Month runs from March 7 to 29, spanning four weekends of maple madness. The fun reaches its peak on the 25th annual New Hampshire Maple Weekend, which will be on Saturday and Sunday, March 21 and 22.
Across the state, sugar makers open their doors to the public on Maple Weekend to demonstrate the centuries-old craft of maple sugaring. It’s a great chance to meet local maple producers and discover how their operation works, enjoy free samples of fresh syrup, maple candies and confections, coffee, and doughnuts. Some locations around the state offer pancake breakfasts, petting farms, or horse-drawn rides.
Plan a visit to one or all of these nearby members of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association, all within nine miles of Andover. But you may want to call ahead to be sure their doors are open.
Ragged View Farm, 111 Bradley Lake Rd, Andover, 724-7511
Trail Side Sugar House, 246 Currier Road, Andover, 748-1307
4-A Sugar Shack, 271 Rte 4-A, Andover, 848-7230
Winter Hill Maple, 7 Winter Hill Lane, Andover, 455-4980
Maple Baer Farm, 84 Forty Acres Road, Elkins, 526-8233
6 Saplings Sugarhouse, 31 Kearsarge Valley Road, Wilmot, 748-9787
Kearsarge Gore Farm, 173 Gore Road, W. Warner, 456-2319
Allenby Family Sugar Makers at Red Brook, 28 Lamson Lane, New London, 877-0043
Cochran Sugar House, 69 Shadow Hill Road, Warner, 748-2512
Stoneledge Farm Sugar House, 19 Brad Chase Road, Danbury, 413-320-3031
Kimball’s Sugar House, 390 White Plains Road, Webster, 848-1866
For more information about New Hampshire maple producers, visit NHMapleProducers.com.
So Much Hard Work!
For readers who think that maple sugaring is all about sweet smells and delicious tastes, Mark Cowdrey of Ragged View Farm provides this highly abbreviated to-do list for producing maple syrup:
Late Fall and Winter
Finish filling the woodshed with wood to fire the boiling apparatus.
Make sure the boiling apparatus is ready to go.
Check the tubing runs in the woods to repair any storm damage that happened during the off-season.
Mid-February to early March
Get tapped out, hang buckets, and set out collection tanks.
Make last-minute adjustments to sugar house.
Late February to early April
Sap runs! Often it will run for a short stretch, one to three days, when the weather is right. Then it may quit for a few days before it runs again. Hopefully there will be four to five good runs a season.
Collect it by emptying buckets and pumping tanks.
Boil sap. This is the time to visit a sugar house, to see, hear, and smell the boiling sap converted to delicious maple syrup.
Early April to early May
As the season progresses the days get longer, the temperatures rise, the trees bud out, and the sap either quits or gets a “buddy” flavor. Time to pull the taps and clean up. This is when you find out who your true friends are.
Early May to mid-fall
Spend time daydreaming or maybe even really planning how you are going to upgrade your systems for next year. This is after you recover from cleaning up, when you swear you will never do it again (usually about a one-week interval).
Cut, split, and stack the wood you will need for next year. Figure about 1 cord (4′ x 8′ x 4′) for 10 to 15 gallons of syrup. Mostly pine with maybe 20 to 40 percent hardwood, if available.
For much more information about maple sugaring, visit Wikipedia.org and search on “maple syrup.”