March 7, 2011

NH Maple Producers Open House Weekend...

Maple sugaring time in New Hampshire occurs from mid-February to mid-April. Freezing nights and warm sunny days create the pressure needed for a good sap harvest.
As the frozen sap in the maple tree thaws, it begins to move and build up pressure within the tree. When the internal pressure reaches a certain point, sap will flow from any fresh wound in the tree.

Mason, NH
Native Americans were the first to discover the fact that sap from maple trees could be processed into maple syrup and sugar. They would use tomahawks to make V-shaped incisions in the trees. Then they would insert pieces of bark to run the sap into buckets made from birch bark. The sap was concentrated by placing hot stones in the bucket. It was consumed as a sweet drink or used in cooking. 
Although there is no documentation of how the process was discovered, there are some interesting legends.
One legend tells how Woksis the Indian Chief, was going hunting one day early in March. He yanked his tomahawk from the tree where he had hurled it the night before, and went off for the day. The weather was warm and the gash dripped sap into a bark vessel under the tree. The chief's squaw, needed water to cook their evening meal and used the water from the tree. As the dinner boiled, the water became concentrated maple sap, and boiled down to the first maple syrup. When the chief neared home, he could smell the the sweet syrup and when he ate his meal he found the meat very tasty. 
After this, maple sugar was produced and celebrated each spring at the end of winter during the "Season of the Melting Snow."
In the early days of colonization, it was the Natives who showed the settlers how to tap the trunk of a tree at the onset of spring, harvest the sap and boil it to evaporate the water. This custom quickly became an integral part of colony life and during the 17th and 18th centuries, syrup was a major source of pure sugar.

March 19th & 20th, 2011 is New Hampshire Maple Producers Open House Weekend. Over 60 sugar houses across the state of New Hampshire will be participating.
If you visit participating sugar houses, you can learn how maple syrup is made, enjoy some free samples, sugar on snow,  pancake breakfasts and more... 
The days and length of the sap run depends entirely on the weather, but is generally 4-6 weeks. (You can turn off the music at the bottom of the page if you want to view the video)

No comments: