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Thứ Bảy, 14 tháng 3, 2015

Be a sap for maple sugar season - Boston Globe (subscription)

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Sugar Shack at 100 Acre Wood in Intervale, N.H.



If maple sugaring is on your bucket list, get that bucket ready. There are hundreds of sugarhouses to tap your own sap and to watch the sap boiled down to make syrup. Make a weekend of it — many local inns are all about New England’s annual rite of spring, and you’ll also find sugarhouses with restaurants that serve fresh maple syrup. (Hello, pancakes!) There are festivals and open houses, or you can visit many of the sugarhouses on your own.


The temperatures typically need to run 35 to 45 degrees during the day and below freezing at night for a succession of days before the sap will flow. But as sure as the crocuses will bloom, the steam will rise from the hundreds of sugarhouses in the region.


VERMONT


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Mother Nature’s sweet tooth is certainly satisfied here. According to the US Department of Agricultural Statistics Service, last year Vermont was the top maple sugaring producer in the nation, producing 48 percent of the country’s maple syrup.


Visit the Green Mountain state during Open House Weekend Vermont on March 28-29. Watch the maple sugaring process at the sugarhouses, and you can sample the sweet stuff too. These aren’t your grandmother’s maple sugar treats. We’re talking sugar on snow, maple apple cider, maple cream frosted doughnuts, maple sugar covered nuts, maple whoopee pies, even maple cotton candy. www.vermontmaple.org


NEW HAMPSHIRE


For maple syrup fans in Mount Washington Valley, March Madness isn’t about basketball. It’s all about the sap and the Annual March Maple Madness Tour on March 21. The self-guided inn-to-inn tour gives ticket holders the chance to taste the maple sugar treats and participate in a scavenger hunt with prizes. Book the Maple Madness package, and you’ll get two nights lodging for two, country breakfast each morning, home-baked maple goodies served in the afternoon, two tickets and a map for the tour, a souvenir recipe collection, plus a gift. Some inns sweeten the pot with activities such as maple-themed dinners and horseback rides. Rates begin at $200. http://ift.tt/18oIJbY




DAVID LYON FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE/file 2014




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Grab the kids and channel Winnie the Pooh at the 100 Acre Wood’s Tap Your Own Program in Intervale. Sponsored by the Believe in Books Literacy Foundation, Tap Your Own kits are available to rent complete with drill bits, spiles, and buckets. After you’ve collected your sap, bring it back to the Sugar Shack and trade it for maple syrup. The kits are available in the 100 Acre Wood Sugar Shack on weekends throughout March and at the organization’s Intervale offices during the week. You can also stroll the Storybook Self-Guided Trails, and, if there is steam rolling out of the Sugar Shack, you are welcome to stop in for a peek at the process. Bonus: Sample tastings, plus a one-hour wagon ride tour that offers a glimpse into the history of sugaring, tips on identifying maple trees, and lessons in the tapping and collection process. ($5 donation proceeds go toward Believe in Books programs.) http://ift.tt/1wJ5QsY


The Rock Estates in Bethlehem, which is the North Country Conservation & Education Center for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, also offers a comprehensive maple sugaring experience on several weekends in March and April. Take a tractor ride to the sugarhouse, help tap a tree, watch a cooking demo, and sample maple syrup, sour pickles, and doughnuts. Maple products are also on sale. “We have a great interactive program that has been going for over 30 years,” says Nigel Manley, tree farmer and director of The Rocks Estate. “It is a hands-on program that couples and families both seem to enjoy.” www.therocks.org


MAINE


Maine Maple Sunday, an annual open house for the state’s sugar makers, is celebrated on March 22, this year with tours, demonstrations, and plenty of samples. (Maple syrup on ice cream? Yup.) The Sugar Shack at Weston’s Family Farm in Fryeburg is part of the Maine Maple Sunday festivities, but you can visit any time during the season to see the process up-close-and-personal (call ahead, it’s weather-dependent). The farm has been producing the sappy stuff for 150 years — and still does it the old-fashioned way, by hanging a bucket on the trees and waiting for the drip. www.westonsfarm.com


MASSACHUSETTS


The Commonwealth is no slouch in the maple sugaring department. It’s Maple Weekend on March 21 and 22 in this neck of the woods, too, and sugarhouses will welcome visitors to tap trees or just watch the process and sample the goods. Bonus: Many of the sugarhouses also have restaurants that feature pure Massachusetts maple syrup on their menus. www.massmaple.org


Color Advance -- 3/18/01: Newbury, NH. Pieter and Jeff Sweet's Sugar Maple House on Rte 103. Bottled maple syrup in window of Sweet Maples sugarhouse in Newbury, NH. Library Tag 03252001 NEW ENGLAND

Bottled maple syrup in window of Sweet Maples sugarhouse in Newbury, N.H.




Laurie Wilson can be reached at laurieheather@yahoo.com





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