Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fall Wonders at The New Hampshire Maple Experience

Maple trees provide us with many gifts through the year: sweet maple syrup in the spring, cool leafy shade in summer, and an array of brilliant colors in autumn. Fall foliage season is a beautiful time to visit the New Hampshire Maple Experience, located at the historic Rocks Estate. Wander the wooded trails, filled with a kaleidoscope of color, en route to the Maple Museum, where you'll enjoy a virtual tour of the sugar making process in the sugar house, learn some of the intriguing history of sugaring, and examine some of the tools of the trade.

Also well known as a Christmas tree farm, The Rocks Estate will be open for tag-your-own Christmas tree on weekends from Sept. 24 through Oct. 16. Visitors may wander the neat rows of fir trees and select one to harvest for holiday trimming. Tagged trees may be cut from Nov. 19 through Dec. 24.

During tag-your-own weekends, the Marketplace at The Rocks and The Rocks farm store will be open for early holiday shopping. The Marketplace features a variety of items from local artisans, as well as several Fair Trade gifts. The farm store is brimming with jams and jellies, Rocks Estate t-shirts and mugs, holiday ornaments and decorations, and – of course – maple syrup made produced from our own sugar maple trees!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Maple Experience Opens June 1st!

The tree taps and metal buckets are put away until next spring, and this year’s collection of pure New Hampshire maple syrup has been bottled, but visitors to the beautiful and historic Rocks Estate this summer can still enjoy the New Hampshire Maple Experience.

Self-guided maple tours open June 1st and run through Columbus Day weekend. Maple lovers may follow the signs to the Maple Museum, housed in one of the many historically renovated buildings at The Rocks. The museum is divided into two sections: the sugar house, where visitors enjoy a video tour of the maple sugaring process; and the museum, chock-full of historic sugaring artifacts and descriptions of the history and process of turning the sap of sugar maple trees into sweet maple syrup and sugar.

The Rocks is open daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and self-guided tours are available during those hours. The Maple Experience is also open to groups and bus tours. Call 603.444.622or email for more information.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Hampshire Maple Experience Returns in June!

Thanks to the hundreds of visitors who enjoyed our Maple Tours during the sugaring season! If you missed out, not to worry – the New Hampshire Maple Experience will return in June with tours for school groups, bus tours, and individuals.

While the sap only flows in the early days of spring, and maple syrup production generally ends in April, the New Hampshire Maple Experience allows visitors to enjoy and learn about sugaring from June through Columbus Day. Beyond the museum, where generations of sugaring tools are on view, along with descriptions of the history of maple sugaring, visitors during the summer and fall are treated to a virtual tour of the sugaring process in the sugar house.

The sugar house and the museum are snugged into one of many historic buildings on The Rocks Estate, owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. The turn-of-the-20th Century Sawmill/Pigpen building was restored and remodeled specifically to house the New Hampshire Maple Experience.

For more about the summer and fall tours, please visit our website  and maple tours page.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

One More Weekend of Maple Tours

The cold days of mid-March are warming to April, and the sap is flowing! We expect a beautiful weekend to close out our Maple Tours at The Rocks Estate. 

More than 600 folks have enjoyed the tours so far this season… make sure you get in on the fun by joining us this weekend. Tree tapping, horse-drawn wagon rides, a tour of a working sugar house, and samples of the good stuff – pure maple syrup – are all part of the New Hampshire Maple Experience

“This may be the most pleasant weekend to be at the farm for the program and to see the sap flow,” says Rocks manager Nigel Manley.

Come see for yourself!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Tasty Tradition

Steam billowing from sugar houses tucked into the woods is a sure sign of spring in New Hampshire, where boiling the sap of sugar maple trees down to maple syrup and sugar has been a tradition in for centuries.

The New Hampshire Maple Experience takes visitors on a tour through time and taste, sharing the history and sweet secrets of making maple syrup.

There are two weekends of Maple Tours left this spring at The Rocks Estate. From tapping a tree to tasting the finished product, the tour is a sweet experience!

The famous Polly’s Pancake Parlor is also on hand, serving up piping hot pancakes, and our shop features New Hampshire made crafts and edibles.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Maple Experience for Everyone

At the New Hampshire Maple Experience, there’s more to maple sugaring than tapping trees and boiling sap. Maple Tours here run weekends through April 3rd. With a dash of history, a slice of how to, and a taste of sweetness, the tours offer fun and facts for all ages.

Kids love to help tap a tree and pat Mac and Duke – the huge Shire draft horses that pull wagons full of visitors around the historic and picturesque Rocks Estate. Prospective sugar makers learn the ins and outs of making maple syrup, from how to identify and properly tap sugar maples, to what it takes to boil sap into syrup. The interactive tour illustrates the centuries-old tradition of making maple syrup, and visitors see first-hand how the process has evolved with a walk through the Maple Museum. Of course, everyone loves the fresh donuts dipped in maple syrup, with a sour pickle on the side to counter the sweetness – all part of the tour!

The tour takes about two hours to complete, and you’ll want to spend some time browsing the small shop of New Hampshire-made crafts and maple goods – and to try some yummy pancakes made by the folks from the famous Polly’s Pancake Parlor in nearby Sugar Hill. This is one Experience you won’t want to miss!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Time to Make the Syrup!

The sap is running, and it's time to make this year's batch of yummy maple syrup at the New Hampshire Maple Experience.

Our Maple Tours run weekends through April 2. With hands-on learning, tasty treats, and unbeatable scenery, the tours are fun for maple lovers of all ages. Find out more at the New Hampshire Maple Experience.

Pictured here is fourth-generation sugar maker Brad Presby, hard at work boiling the sap down into syrup - and sharing some of the secrets of sugaring with Maple Tour visitors.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Fleeting Sweetness of Spring

Most folks love the sweet taste of maple syrup. So why is it only produced during the short period when winter turns to spring? There are a few reasons:
·         Sugar makers rely on a combination of warm, sunny days and below-freezing nights to collect sap from sugar maple trees. The warmer days create pressure within the trees, causing sap to flow. If you tap a hole correctly into a tree, that sap will flow out the hole and into the metal bucket or plastic tubing sugarers use to collect it. Cool nights create suction within the trees, drawing water up through the roots and into the tree, thus replenishing the sap, so the whole process can be repeated.
·         While sugaring season typically lasts about six weeks, the sap doesn’t flow every day – the weather has to be just right. A quick rise in temperature during the day will enhance sap flow, but a cool day can slow it to a stop.
·         Once the leaves on the maples bud, the sap turns from sweet to bitter, and the sugar making season comes to a close.

Sugaring season is fleeting, but that makes it all the sweeter! To learn more about how maple syrup is made, check out the season’s maple tours at the New Hampshire Maple Experience

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Maple Tours Start March 12th!

With the combination of cool nights and warm days, the sap is flowing here in the North Country of New Hampshire – and that means it’s maple sugaring time! Sugarers are looking to tap their sugar maple trees soon to start gathering the sweet sap to boil into maple syrup and sugar.

At the New Hampshire Maple Experience, we invite visitors from near and far to experience the joys of sugaring – and sample the finished product – during our Maple Tours. Participants will enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride around the picturesque and historic Rocks Estate in Bethlehem, learn how to identify trees, help tap sugar maples, and visit the interactive New Hampshire Maple Experience museum and sugar house to see the process in action.

Tours run weekends through March, and the first weekend of April. To learn more about the New Hampshire Maple Experience and to reserve your Maple Experience Tour, please visit us online.

To see a video on how to tap a sugar maple, visit our YouTube page.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tree ID is Key

With several species of maple growing in the North Country woods, the first step to maple sugaring is determining which trees to tap. While red maples and silver maples produce sap that can be boiled into syrup, the preferred species is the sugar maple, whose sap has a higher sugar content.

When the maple sugaring season begins, there is still snow blanketing the ground, and the trees are still winter bare. But if you look closely at the buds emerging at the tips of the branches, you’ll be able to pick out a sugar maple from a red maple. Bark, branch placement and other hints tell sugarers what they need to know in the first step of making syrup – which trees are the sugar maples, whose sweet sap boils down to maple syrup and sugar.

Tree identification is critical to efficient sugaring – and it’s one of the many things visitors to the New Hampshire Maple Experience learn. Check out our latest YouTube video for a few Tree ID Tips.

For a peak of our interactive Maple Experience museum, which is also open in the summer and fall months beyond sugaring season, visit our panoramic tour.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sugaring Season Starts Soon!

Here in the North Country of New Hampshire, we’re still buried in several feet of snow and enjoying all the beauty of the mountains in winter. But the days are getting longer, and soon the daytime temperatures should be warm enough to get the sap flowing through the sugar maples. That means maple sugaring season is just around the corner!
At the New Hampshire Maple Experience, we’re gearing up for another busy spring of showcasing the sugaring process, from sap collection to the delectable finished product. Our Maple Tours start March 12 and run weekends through April 2 at the historic Rocks Estate.
To see the historic building that is home to the Maple Experience museum and sugar house, view our latest YouTube video.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Maple Syrup – It’s Not Just for Pancakes Anymore

Maple syrup is most often associated with breakfast, and it’s delicious poured over piping hot, right-off-the-griddle pancakes.
But since early New England settlers started collecting sap and boiling it down, maple syrup and sugar have been used in a plethora of recipes. Home bakers use it to sweeten bread, cookies, pies, and muffins. New Englanders have been known add maple syrup to the pot as they’re simmering baked beans. Maple syrup is used in marinades for meat, or baked into fresh vegetables. It’s even been used to flavor coffee and whiskey.
If you have a maple recipe that’s merits sharing – or want to see how others use maple syrup in their cooking – visit our recipe page.
Everyone who shares a recipe will be entered into a drawing to win a quart of delicious New Hampshire maple syrup on April 1!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sweet History

Maple syrup, that sweet nectar of the trees, has long been a breakfast tradition, especially in New England. Even before folks poured the amber liquid over our pancakes and waffles, however, they were using maple syrup and maple sugar to sweeten their food.
Legend has it that Native Americans discovered the sugar maple’s sweet secret when sap dripped from a tomahawk gash into a bucket below. The liquid in the bucket was used to cook venison, which tasted sweetly delicious. Native Americans began collecting sap in hollowed-out logs and using stones heated in a fire to boil the liquid down to sugar form, which would not spoil and was easily transported.
When European settlers arrived in North America, the Natives shared with them the secret of the sugar maples. Settlers added their own twists to sugaring over time, using wooden spouts and buckets to collect sap and boiling it down in large metal kettles. Maple sugar became an important staple for early New Englanders, and the process of turning sap into sugar – and maple syrup – evolved again and again.
Today’s process is considerably changed from the early methods. Vacuum pumps, sugar houses, and large evaporators have eased some of the hardest work of sugaring. The end result is just as sweet.
The museum at the N.H. Maple Experience tells the story with hands-on demonstrations and sugaring artifacts.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


That little one-quart jug of sweet maple syrup sitting on your breakfast table may seem simply sweet, but the process of turning sap into syrup is fairly involved….
It takes about 40 gallons of sap from a sugar maple tree to produce one gallon of maple syrup – that means ten gallons of sap goes into every quart jug you pour over your pancakes or waffles.
The sap-to-syrup process starts when sugar makers tap the trees, as the cold days of winter start to warm toward spring. The sap is collected in buckets or plastic tubing and transported to the sugar house. There, the clear sap (it looks like water when it flows from the tree) is boiled continuously until it thickens into syrup.
To find out more about how maple syrup is made, visit the New Hampshire Maple Experience site.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Maple Experience at The Rocks Estate: Making Syrup - Preserving History

The New Hampshire Maple Experience museum is housed in a century-old building at the picturesque and historic Rocks Estate in Bethlehem. The Rocks is now the North Country Conservation & Education Center for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. It is also a working farm, where Christmas trees are grown to be harvested during the winter holiday season and maple trees are tapped in the spring to create sweet maple syrup.

Visitors to The Rocks are invited to participate in the maple sugaring process during the season, from mid-March to early April. (Don’t worry – if you miss the sugaring season, the N.H. Maple Experience also offers tours during the summer and fall months. )

The 1906 building housing the N.H. Maple Experience was originally used as a sawmill and pigpen on the Estate. Today it houses an interactive maple museum, where sugar makers boil sap into syrup during the season. On display are sugaring artifacts, from the collection of locally renowned sugar maker Charlie Stewart, offering insight to how the process of crafting sweet maple syrup has evolved over the years.