Maple Madness: New Hampshire & Vermont Celebrate All Things Maple
Mar 22, 2017 06:49PM
● By Linda Ditch
This weekend, New Hampshire and
Vermont celebrate all things maple with their annual Maple Madness. Local sugarhouses
will be open so you can see just how pure maple syrup is made. Many will have
samples of fresh syrup, maple candies, and other sweet treats. Some farms will
also have pancake breakfasts, horse-drawn rides, and petting zoos. Best of all,
you can buy maple syrup right from the producer.
Producers begin tapping trees in late February, drilling small holes and inserting a spout attached either to a labyrinth of plastic tubing leading to a holding tank or to a metal sap bucket that will be emptied by hand. Then they wait for the weather to bring daytime temperatures in the 40s and temperatures below freezing at night.
Did you know it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup? When sap comes out of the sugar maple tree, it looks and tastes like slightly sweet water. In the sugarhouse, the sap is boiled in a contraption called an evaporator, traditionally heated by a wood fire, though some producers have gone to cleaner burning oil. When the sap reaches 219º you know you’re making maple syrup.
Maple syrup is graded according to its color, flavor, and clarity. The longer the sugaring season goes on, the darker the syrup and the stronger the flavor. Grade A – light amber, which is produced early in the season, and Grade A – medium amber are the types used most on pancakes and waffles. Grade A – dark amber and Grade B are great for use in recipes, though there are many people who enjoy these flavors for breakfast as well.
Many area sugarhouses treat young visitors to sugar on snow—maple candy made on fresh snow. You can also do this at home. Heat syrup without stirring to between 230 and 235º, and then pour it onto a pan full of clean snow (shaved ice also works well). You can make squiggly designs or simple circles. If you pour the syrup at 230º, the candy will be chewy. Higher than 232º, and the candy becomes hard.