New Hampshire celebrates Maple Sugar Month

The earliest European explorers of North America noticed that Native American tribes took sap from maple trees and boiled it down to create sugar or a thick syrup they poured over snow.

The sugar was an important bartering tool for the Indians in what is now southeastern Canada and the northeastern United States and became an important form of income for the early colonists after they learned how to collect the sap from the trees through slashing the bark.

In the late 18th century, primitive spiles, or pegs, were created to avoid the destructive tree slashing.

Maple producers continue to practice their craft all over New England, and as a record-breaking winter gives way to the warm days and cool nights that are necessary for sap to flow, they are celebrating and sharing their skills and products.

Beginning Saturday, March 14, and continuing each weekend through April 5, many members of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association will be participating in Maple Sugaring Month. Maple Weekend is March 28-29. Some producers will be open every weekend and some for Maple Weekend only, so call first.

Many syrup producers will show how their operations work and many will offer free samples of fresh syrup, as well as samples of maple candies and confections, coffee and doughnuts.

Some locations have pancake breakfasts, petting farms or horse-drawn rides.

Sara Kenney and her husband, Patrick, run Brookview Sugar House on Wilton’s scenic Gage Road, where they make syrup from sap that comes from almost 1,000 taps on trees in Wilton, Mason and New Ipswich.

The Kenneys’ children, ages 4 and 5, have their own buckets and their own trees to tap, and there are car seats in the family’s truck so they can help collect the sap.

This year, the season is late because of the extreme cold. They usually can beginning tapping the last week in February, and they had expected the sap to start running Tuesday, when the temperature was in the mid-40s, but it didn’t.

“I think the trees are still frozen,” Sara Kenney said.

When the sap does begin to flow, the couple will be working nights and weekends, she said.

“It’s insane this time of year,” Kenney said.

On Maple Weekend, they will be serving maple-glazed doughnuts made by Kenney’s mother and children, homemade maple creme and maple candy, and giving out free samples of syrup.

But people are always welcome to stop by anytime the Kenneys are boiling syrup.

Here are Monadnock Region sugarhouses participating in New Hampshire Maple weekends:

Brookview Sugarhouse

Patrick and Sara Kenney; 154 Gage Road, Wilton; 654-7961; sy815@yahoo.com; 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The Kenneys hope to be boiling sap on Maple Weekend, and will have maple syrup and maple candy for sale. Free homemade doughnuts and coffee.

The Maple Guys

311 Cram Hill Road, Lyndeborough; 487-3292; March 28-29, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Boiling and tapping demonstrations, live music,
sugar-on-snow, maple cotton candy, maple hot dogs and other treats.

Clark’s Sugar House

David and Alvin Clark; Crane Brook Road, Langdon; 835-6863 or 835-2111; sugarhouse1@earthlink.net; 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Watch sap boiling over a wood fire and tour the bison farm. All maple products for sale. Coffee, doughnuts, free syrup samples on Maple Weekend. They will also be serving pecan pie and bison burgers.

Connolly Sugar House

Connolly family; 140 Webster Highway, Temple; 924-5002; connollybrothersdairyfarm@
yahoo.com; Facebook at Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm; 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Wood-fired boiling demonstrations daily. Dairy farm tours. Farm store selling maple walnut and maple ice cream, raw milk, beef, pork, maple sausage, lamb, chicken, artisan cheeses, maple soap and hand cream, and many other homemade maple treats. On March 21-22 and 28-29, a food truck will be selling hot dogs, hamburgers, waffles on a stick dipped in hot maple syrup, hot and cold drinks.

Morning Star Maple

John and Karen Keurulainen; 1596 Main St./Route 101, Dublin; 563-9218; morningstar
maple.com; 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Maple sugaring demonstrations. Free samples of maple products. Free pancakes and fresh syrup will be served March 28-29. Gift shop open with a full line of maple products available and made on the premises, including maple syrup, cream, sugar, candy, cotton candy and maple nuts.

Old Pound Road Sugar House

Charles Levesque; 37 Old Pound Road, Antrim; 588-3272; levesque@inrsllc.com.

On Maple Weekend, they will have their old-time traditional sugarhouse fully operational, making maple syrup and candy. Free samples. Syrup and candy for sale. Free coffee and maple muffins.

Rainer’s Sugar House

George and Jean Rainier; 121 Old Bennington Road, Greenfield; 547-2108; greenfieldgardens@myfairpoint.net; Sunday only, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Learn how sap is boiled into syrup on a wood-fired evaporator. Maple syrup for sale.

Woodard’s Sugar House

Mark and Kati Woodard; 1200 Route 12A, Surry; 358-3321; woodardssugarhousenm@gmail.com; woodardssugarhouse.com; 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Tours, products for sale/sampling: syrup, maple candy, cream, maple-coated nuts, maple sugar, maple cotton candy. Free raffle.

For a statewide list of maple sugar producers, visit nhmapleproducers.com.

on the cover

Roadside sugar maples were planted by the Hardy family in the 1860s in Hollis. Here, maple buckets line Ridge Road near Beaver Brook’s Maple Hill Farm in 2011.