It’s easy to love maple syrup – whether poured over pancakes, mixed with olive for a tangy-sweet vinaigrette, or baked into tasty muffins and bread. Making syrup, however, is a long labor of love.
To gear up for the NewHampshire Maple Experience and give you a sneak peak of some of the maple tidbits you’ll learn during sugaring season at The Rocks Estate, here are a few Maple Facts:
- It takes 40 gallons of sap from sugar maple trees to make one gallon of syrup.
- Maple sugar and syrup have been produced in the New England woods since the days before European settlers, when Native Americans collected sap in wooden or birch-bark buckets and boiled it down by plunging fire-heated rocks into the sap.
- European settlers streamlined the sugaring process over time, first collecting sap in buckets and boiling it in large kettles hung over open fires, then moving to wood-fired sugar house operations. Today, large scale maple producers often collect sap in plastic tubing strung between sugar maples and feeding a collection tank, and many sugar houses include heavy duty, gas-powered evaporators to boil the sap into sugar and syrup.
- Sugaring season is almost entirely weather dependent and lasts about 6 weeks long. Sugar makers in northern New Hampshire generally tap their trees in mid- to late February, and the season may last into early April. Ultimate sap flow through the trees happens with below-freezing nights and mild days. Once the sugar maple trees leaf out, the trees’ sap turns from sweet to bitter, and sugaring season is over.
- Sugar makers often mark trees during the summer and fall months, so they can easily identify sugar maples during the late winter and early spring days of collecting sap. During sugaring season, they use trees’ buds and branch configuration to distinguish sugar maples from red maples and other species.
- A sugar maple should be at least 10 inches in diameter– which translates to 40 years or older – to be tapped for syrup. Older, larger trees can support multiple taps, as long as they’re placed properly.
To learn how to identify trees, properly tap a sugar maple to collect sap, and see sugaring demonstrated by a fourth-generation sugar maker, come to The Rocks Estate and enjoy the New Hampshire Maple Experience! Maple tours are offered this year March 17, 24-25, 31-April 1, and April 7 and feature maple syrup tastings, cooking demonstrations by acclaimed local chefs, horse-drawn wagon rides through the historic Rocks Estate property, and lots of fun!