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.