Ah, maple syrup. There may be a few more iconic symbols of Vermont, but right up there on the list has to be that sweet flowing stuff that fits so perfectly on top of waffles, pancakes or for that matter, any sort of breakfast-brunch comfort food. It tastes pretty good all year-round, but especially so, it seems, in the winter or early spring. Not that pancakes in July with maple syrup doesn’t make a lot of sense either.
Early March in Vermont, right after Town Meeting (first Tuesday in March) is when the sugar houses kick into high gear, with smoke billowing from chimneys (actually from the evaporators, which separate the sugar in the tree sap from the water), people gathering the sap and the dark, gooey liquid getting poured into bottles for future use. Nowadays, you’ll still see buckets on trees and people collecting it the old-fashioned way, even though the larger operations rely on lines which transport the sap more directly to the sugarhouse.
Around us, there are at least three syrup makers who, if they’re boiling, are usually happy to welcome you into their boiling rooms to watch and chat. Here’s a list of some local sugar makers worth checking out if you’re in the area:
You’ll notice that their big weekend, Maple Sunday, is coming up the weekend of March 24-5. I know, they call it Maple Sunday but it really is the whole weekend. It’s a Vermont thing.
And if you’re curious as to how the stuff is actually made, down to the granular science of it, check this website out:
Here at Christmas Days, we try to do our part to honor this sacred tradition by offering for sale some pretty cool tree ornaments. This time of year we’re open Fridays-Mondays, from 10 – 5 p.m. Stop by after you’ve swung by the sugarhouse and get one while supplies last!