March 26, 2009


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A sappy story
Maple Weekend offers a chance to taste the sweet stuff

By Linda A. Thompson-Odum

Maple sugaring season has arrived once again in New Hampshire. And the state’s maple producers have their trees tapped and their evaporators fired up, ready to welcome visitors for this year’s Maple Weekend, Saturday, March 28, and Sunday, March 29.

“The sap has been running for a number of days now, so we’re off to a good start. We’re hoping that everyone has a good season and Mother Nature cooperates with cold nights and warm but not too warm days,” Barbara Lassonde of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association (NHMPA) said.

This past winter’s ice storm did cause damage to some of the maple orchards, but perhaps not as extensive as some reports have indicated.

“The most damage was in south-central New Hampshire along the Massachusetts border, around Temple, Jaffrey and Lyndeborough. Some of those farms have found new orchards to tap, and some have decided to take a year off and do clean-up this summer. But the amount of taps lost in the ice storm that were not made up by tapping new orchards is only about one percent of the total taps,” Lassonde said.

The maple sugaring season lasts approximately six weeks, once the daytime temperatures are in the low 40s and the nighttime temps are in the high 20s. That’s when the sap begins to run in the trees. The state’s maple industry produces approximately 90,000 gallons of maple syrup each season.

Sap looks like water and has a slightly sweet taste, and it takes 40 gallons of it, boiled in an evaporator, to make just one gallon of syrup. It’s graded according to color, flavor and clarity. The most popular are Grade A-light amber, produced early in the season, and Grade A-medium amber. Grade A-dark amber and Grade B work best in recipes, though some people enjoy their almost molasses-like flavor on pancakes and waffles.

New Hampshire’s Maple Weekend started 17 years ago as Maple Sunday and was so successful that the event was extended to two days. This year more than 65 maple producers will open their sugar shacks to the public. Lassonde noted some of the farms in the southern part of the state will get 100 to 200 visitors that weekend.

“People like to know where their food comes from, especially with the recent food scares. This is a great opportunity to see the syrup being made. And people have been cooped up all winter, so this is a chance to get outside and enjoy the spring weather,” Lassonde said.

Tamarack Farm in Canterbury is one of the producers that will participate in the weekend event. Owner Jim Snyder said his place wasn’t damaged in the ice storm, and he plans to offer horse-drawn hayrides, syrup, and sugar on snow — a maple candy made when syrup heated to between 230 and 235 degrees is poured onto clean snow or shaved ice.

“It’s shaping up to be a pretty good season but could still go either way,” Snyder said.

Dean Wilber of Mapletree Farm in Concord said he experienced very little storm damage both at the farm and the area he leases farther up the road. He was concerned about the warmer weather the area experienced for a time, which can stop the sap run. For Maple Weekend, he said, “We go all out on Saturday with free samples of syrup, maple-coated nuts, maple cream, and sugar on snow. Weather permitting, there is a self-guided tour of the orchard and woods. We may or may not be boiling on Sunday, depending if there is sap. Only syrup samples will be available Sunday, if we are boiling.”

Here is a list of some farms that will open their sugar houses to the public on Maple Weekend. For a complete list, plus more information on maple syrup, check out the New Hampshire Maple Producers Web site,

• Tamarack Farm (125 Asby Road, Canterbury, 783-9226, will be open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with free samples, sugar on snow, syrup tasting, farm tours and horse-drawn rides (for a small fee).

• Mapletree Farm (99 Oak Hill Road, Exit 16 off Interstate 93, Concord, 224-0820) will be open Saturday only, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., offering sugar on snow, samples of maple syrup and other maple products, and coffee — no charge — and a self-guided walking tour of orchard and woods, weather permitting. Boiling Sunday afternoon if there is sap.

• Ben’s Sugar Shack (83 Webster Hwy., Temple, and 694 Route 103, Newbury, 562-6595) will be open Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with free samples of sugar on snow, maple cotton candy, hot maple syrup on vanilla ice cream, maple candy and baked goods.

• Maple Butternut Farm (Pine Echo Road, off Route 136, New Boston, 487-5508) will be open Saturday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with free maple syrup samples, coffee and doughnuts, and a demonstration of making syrup with a wood-burning evaporator. Visitors are always welcome when you see steam.

• Middle Branch Farm (280 Colburn Road, New Boston, 487-2540) will be open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (it’s open daily throughout the sugaring season) with wood-fired boiling of sap the traditional way. There’s a post-and-beam sugar house and sugar woods tours. They’ll be serving sugar on snow, coffee, homemade donuts, pancakes, maple baked beans and other maple treats.

• The Grant Family Pond View Maple Sugar House (224 Mt. Dearborn Road, Weare, 529-4148) will be open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free food Saturday only; sample maple products and try homemade chili, hot dogs steamed in sap, coffee, tea, popcorn and maple cotton candy. Coloring books and crayons for kids.

• Beaver Meadowbrook Farm Sugar House (402 Route 103 E, Warner, 456-6052 or 224-2452) will be open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with free syrup samples, maple coffee and other goodies.

Tour the new sugar house and maple orchard; try sap-gathering for kids. Watch the boiling process and learn the history of maple sugaring.

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3/5/2009 Get a peice of the farm
2/26/2009 Before late night eats,an evening at the pub
2/19/2009 Drinks with Dan Akroyd
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2/5/2009 Dinner with your sweetheart
1/29/2009 Food for the 50-yard line
1/22/2009 Artisan bread at The Good Loaf
1/15/2009 "Fold, mush, turn"
1/8/2009 Once upon a time at a bistro...
1/1/2009 Zacky's to go
12/25/2008 2008 in small bites
12/18/2008 Manchestert brewing opens in Concord
12/11/2008 Delicious gifts for the foodie
12/4/2008 New chef at UnWine'd
11/27/2008 Corks pops at BVI
11/20/2008 Big plates, big food
11/13/2008 IPA first prize
11/6/2008 You want it? He'll bring it.
10/30/2008 Cooking up a mystery
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7/03/2008 3C's Cafe opens in Highlander Inn
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7/12/2007 Reintroducing ratatouille
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6/28/2007 Peanutty dinner delight
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3/29/2007 New 'nuches
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2/1/2007 Super platters for the Super Bowl
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2/09/2006 Biting into the burger with bling
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A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
A picnic ó itís romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead ó run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
Itís not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken ó no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: itís whatís for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch