Monday, April 9, 2012

Maple Weekend

Special weekend last weekend.
It was the annual Maple Open House at most of the sugar shacks in New England.
A chance to visit some working farms where maple trees are tapped for their sweet sap. It is boiled down and made into delicious maple syrup.
Sugar houses are open to visit and have plenty of fresh maple syrup and products to enjoy. Some locations are offering pancake breakfasts, petting farms and entertainment. Every sugar house offers plenty of fun and a great learning experience about one of the state's oldest industries.
A plan was hatched several days ago to decide where my friends and I were going to enjoy the festivities.
The Glencliff sugar house in Benton NH won our votes.
The journey to the location took us thru the scenic New HampshireWhite Mountain National Forest, right near the Appalachian Trail.

The isolated place was easy to find, the road was not too muddy and there were lots of vehicles parked at the end of the long road up the mountain to the shak in the woods.
It looked like we were going to have to hike up the road about a mile to the sugar house on the mountain.
Just as we started up the steep road......

I heard some rustling up in the woods and the next thing I know, a jolly man driving a red wagon comes trotting down the hill.

We loaded ourselves onto the wagon and away we went!

It was a thrill when the 2 Norwegian Fjords gallopped up a portion of the trail.

Around the next bend the sugar house came into view and the sweet aroma of maple sugar filled the air.

Sap was being boiled inside. The fire was warm and took the chill off.

The finished product was lined up on the shelves.

There are a hundred reasons for going to these Maple Open Houses. 
I read the list of the activities happening at all the sugar houses for the weekend and had a difficult time deciding which ones to go to.  

Here is some verbage on the 110 New Hampshire sugar makers that opened their sugar shacks to the public:

"Tours, refreshments. Enjoy the first taste of spring. Wood fired evaporator. Boiling sap in our 65 year old family sugar house. Sap gathering, sap science, sugar on snow, see demonstrations of Native American, colonial and modern sugaring-off methods. Visit a maple sugar encampment, take a look at our tapped trees, come inside the sugar house to see our modern evaporator. Sample pure maple syrup and sugar on snow.  Cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Full time farm operation. Maple sugar, great syrup, spring lambs and muddy feet. Be prepared for muddy roads.

Sap brewed coffee, ice cream with syrup, Sugar house tour, sugar bush tour. Maple retail outlet featuring our famous maple butter as well as many other products. Say hi to the Mighty Titan, Maple Ridge Sugar House’s very own maple horse.  Self-guided walking tour of orchard and woods. Fudge, brittle and candy for sale. 

Sap boiling demonstration. Try some maple coffee, hotdogs boiled in sap, learn some maple facts, tour the sugarhouse and stop by to purchase some “maple sweetness” from your “sweet neighbors” in our shop.   Baked goods made with maple syrup, maple coffee, maple butter, coloring for the kids. Fire pit and fun! Boiling if weather and sap permits. Drop cakes with syrup, Sap gathering in lines and buckets.

sampling a variety of maple products including syrup, lollipops, maple pepper, cream, cotton candy, kettle corn, nuts, maple apple butter, fudges and milk. 
Free entertainment and lunch food for purchase. Pet and feed our dairy goats. Rubber boots highly recommended. Hand gathered sap & wood fired evaporator.  Serving flapjacks, & donuts.

Draft horses gathering sap. You are able to come see our boiling operation and meet the family behind it. We are very proud of our tradition and would love to share our operation with you. You may also find some maple cookies. Maple cookies, muffins, demonstrations. Visit us as we boil sap into syrup, help collect sap, sample maple syrup on ice cream and experience the atmosphere of a true dooryard sugar house. Syrup, candy, cream, granulated sugar and cotton candy.

Samples of recipes using maple syrup. Come see Abe the buffalo!   Breakfast: pancakes, waffles, French toast and all the fresh made maple syrup you want!  General store with maple sugaring museum and maple products. Horse drawn wagon rides. Come see the rabbits and chickens. Free coffee and pancake roll-ups with new syrup. Horse-drawn rides through the sugar bush.  Gathering, boiling demonstrations. Bottle your own syrup. Free Maple chicken BBQ. We will be serving maple whoopie pies, hot cocoa with homemade maple marshmallows and our famous maple syrup pie. Photos of past sugaring seasons will be available for viewing – Our sugar house is sure to delight young and old… Experience: tap a tree, learn why sap flows, tree identification, take a horse drawn ride, learn the history of maple production, maple popcorn, pancakes, doughnuts, sour pickles. Free samples: Pancakes, sausage & ham.  free maple dogs.

Wood fired arch- see the steam and watch the sap boil! Learn all about it. Rustic sugar house with plenty of parking on the road. Maple frosted doughnuts, free maple (sap) coffee, maple frappes, ice cream w/ syrup. Free live music & dance on Sunday. Products available: maple candy, cream, syrup, mustard & BBQ sauce.  Maple granola, maple baked beans, maple drizzled fried dough & waffles.  3500 taps on vacuum. Book signing on Saturday by the author of Sugar on Snow, Nan Rossiter.  Maple sundaes with fresh maple syrup & whipped cream. 

Variety of goat’s milk products (soap, cheese). Name the Goats contest, scavenger hunt for kids. Live music & more. Farm fresh items to buy: chicken, guinea fowl, rabbit, raw honey, eggs and possibly day old chicks. Offering hot chocolate, coffee, doughnuts, hot apple cider, warm syrup samples. Maple syrup, cream, candy, maple coated nuts, eggs and honey for sale. Maple apple crisp.
Come see our herd of bison and mini donkeys. Small 32-tap operation. Serving coffee & doughnuts.   See what can be done in your back yard with ready materials and one person. "

See why the decision of which one to go to was so difficult ?

Here is the line of free treats at the sugar house I went to.

Hot doughnut with home made ice cream, hot maple syrup and a very sour pickle.
I washed it all down with maple coffee and another doughnut.
Perfect combination!

As I stumbled away from the table of sweet treats, I found a frog camouflaged in the leaves.

He headed back to the gentle stream that flowed down the mountainside.

In a wink, the jolly man and his handsome steeds, Tasha and Nora, arrived on the scene.

Our chauffeur picked us up in his chariot and took us back to our vehicles.

We zig zagged up the back roads, over giant frost heaves and across the big river to the Vermont side and quickly found another Open House up in the mountains of Barnet.

Since I have "coop envy" I noticed this wonderful 8x6 barn coop.

Not many visitors at this event, so that means more sweet stuff for us!

Their specialty is "sugar on snow' which is hot maple syrup on top of snow.  The syrup turns to taffy on the freezing cold snow.  The warm donut just adds to the heavenly taste.

I could not leave empty handed, so a 1 pound bag of maple fudge was purchased and I am doling it out.
What a sweet weekend!
If you ever have a chance to attend one of these events, do it!


  1. Looks just wonderful!!! I would love to go to one of those, I might never leave!

  2. Yum!! We would definitely take a tour if we lived out your way ... my favorite part was your ride with the pair of lovely Fjords.