Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Did You Know?!….All About Maple Sugaring

We went on a Maple Sugaring adventure recently.  It’s really something you just have to do if you live in New England…or really anywhere relatively close to a maple sugaring area.  It’s sort of a transition-to-spring ritual that I think we will treasure each season.   Not too long ago we finished reading about Almanzo Wilder’s maple sugaring adventures in Farmer Boy.  It was wonderful to relive his experience (to a point!) on our own.  It brought his stories to life in a new way.  

When I was little we lived in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts and sugaring shacks were everywhere.  We’re not quite so rural here so I had to a bit of research on what was available locally.  During my search I happened upon an amazing site.  It has a detailed list of every sugar shack in the state, including a few details on what is available at their shack…tours, goods for purchase, whether they are a wood-burning facility or not, etc.  Turns out there’s sites like this for other states too.

Massachusetts Sugar Shacks

New Hampshire Sugar Shacks

Vermont Sugar Shacks

New York Sugar Shacks

Maine Sugar Shacks

Connecticut Sugar Shacks

Michigan Sugar Shack

We decided on a small family owned and operated farm in North Andover Mass called Turtle Lane Maple Farms. 


They began sugaring as a science experiment with their children.  They tapped a few trees and boiled the sap on their grill in the backyard.  They now tap over 500 trees and have a small (but impeccable well organized) shack in the acreage behind their home.  The tours were amazing…with lots of samples!!!  We all learned so much and excited to try it out on our own Maple trees next year. 

Did  you know:

-Maple sugar was first produced by the Native Americans.

-When done correctly tapping a tree does not harm the tree.

-A group of sugar maple trees is called a sugar bush.

-A building used for boiling and producing maple sugar is called a sugar shack. 

-It takes 30-50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.

-Maple syrup is boiled even further to produce maple cream, maple sugar, and maple candy.

-The sugar content of sap is about 2.5 percent, the sugar content of maple syrup is over 66 percent.

-Usually a maple tree is at least 30 years old and 12 inches in diameter before it is tapped.

-As the tree increases in diameter, more taps can be added – up to a maximum of four taps. 

-Only a few places in the world have the right climate for sugar maples: New England, Upstate New York, Michigan, the Maritime provinces, and southern Quebec and Ontario. 

-Maple sugar has the same calcium content as whole milk.

-Each tap will yield about 10 gallons of sap per season making about 1 quart of syrup. 


This little man cubs favorite par?…definitely the big orange tractor, and the pick carrying a full tank of sap.

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