A first sign of spring in New England is the sap running in the sugar maples signaling the beginning of maple syrup production. This occurs about mid-February through mid-March when the day time temperatures are above freezing and the night temperatures go below freezing.
It is generally believed that the indigenous people of north eastern America were the first people to produce maple syrup long before any Europeans came to this country. They made a slash in the bark of the sugar maple trees and gathered the dripping sap in birch bark buckets placed on the ground below it. They then boiled the sweet liquid over a fire until it thickened into syrup.
That is still basically how it is done today. Except now the sap is gathered in buckets, or more often, through plastic tubing that runs from tree to tree which is collected in a large container near the sugar house/shack. The long process of boiling the sap to make the syrup is done in large pans over a wood fire in the sugar shack.
There are sugar shacks all over New England. Many exist right here in our local area, both large and small producers, who make wonderful syrup and other maple sugar products. Pictures below are of the Stacey Farms in Kezar Falls. The Stacey’s have been making maple syrup products for five generations.
The 4th Sunday in March the Maine Maple Producers Association sponsor “Maple Sugar Sunday” and all the producers invite the public to their shacks to sample the products and to buy syrup to take home. Watch for notices of this year’s “Maple Sugar Sunday” to appear soon.
George Stacey boiling sap for the 2018 production of syrup.