Calling all maple mavens! Just one week after the spring solstice officially kicks off the season, Maine's maple syrup producers statewide - nearly 100 members strong! - will welcome visitors to their sugar shacks as part of Maine Maple Day. Held on March 27, you'll have the opportunity to learn more about this centuries-old craft while sampling and purchasing maple-themed delights like candies, syrup, coffee, and doughnuts. While you’ve undoubtedly tasted maple syrup before, there’s nothing like getting it straight from the source.
Maple syrup has been around for hundreds of years, adding a touch of sweetness to life long before the colonists arrived in these parts. Although the equipment has been updated, the process remains pretty much the same. Usually starting in late February, the clear "sweetwater" begins to flow and is collected in buckets hung from the trees. In a good year, one large tree can produce as much as 60 gallons. That might seem like a lot, but that sap will be boiled down over a wood fire to about one a half gallons of syrup. Once it flows from the tree, the sap must be processed within a few hours or it will spoil, so Maine's syrup makers work around the clock once the spring run has started to make as much of the sweet stuff as possible.
While the degree of sweetness is now set by law, each batch of syrup is as unique and temperamental as the various parts of our great state. Sometimes the syrup is dark and rich, other times pale gold and delicate. Just like the wines produced on the left coast, it all depends on the soil, terrain, wind, and weather.
So layer up, pull on your wellies, and venture out for a truly Maine-made adventure into maple country!