Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Maple Syrup Season Off to an Early Start in NH!

I know the groundhog saw his shadow just a few weeks ago predicting six more weeks of winter, but I think he just may have been off base this year! The start of the NH Maple Syrup season is the surest sign of Spring I know! Driving home last evening with my girls in the car, they both screeched out in unison as we passed our neighbors farm. What caused their melodious screeching was the sight of billowing steam from a tall stack tucked behind our neighbor’s barns – a sure sign that large vats of sap collected from area Sugar Maple trees are boiling away about to be turned into “liquid gold”.

Smoke billowing from the sugarhouse signals spring's approach. Our neighbors, The McGill family have been making maple syrup on their farm for generations and even today four generations participate in the making of the treasured liquid.  Known as Twin Spruce Farm, their farm (like most farms in our area) is quite diversified and dabbles in a vast number of farming activities including but not limited to raising dairy cattle, producing and selling square and round bale hay, cord wood, Christmas trees and wreaths, and of course, maple syrup production.

The McGill family manages several thousand maple taps each year, many of which are on maple trees in our own sugar bush. We encourage you to make a reservation at the Inn at Valley Farms during this special season so you can fully experience and enjoy the maple experience – walk our woodland walking trail and see the sap being gravity fed into collection tanks first hand. Then walk to the McGill’s sugar house to watch the gathered sap boiled into the golden sweet liquid, have a sinful taste right from the tap and of course have an opportunity to take some home to enjoy for months to come.

Since the McGill’s use sap from our trees in the process we exclusively use their syrup in our many delectable breakfast dishes here at the inn and also stock their syrup in a wide variety of sizes for guests to take home year round. There are many other sugar houses in our immediate area that offer tours and tastings during the maple syrup season as well. Take advantage of our current winter special, stay for a couple of days and tour several sugar houses to find your favorite!  We’ll be happy to give you a list of ours, just ask! One seasonal event of special notice is Stonewall Farm’s Annual Sap Gathering Contest scheduled for March 27th from 10-4pm in nearby Keene, NH. A unique event, fun for all ages. Don’t miss out, make your reservation today and create a special family memory.

Many of our  guests ask year round if they can go and see maple syrup being made not realizing that its production really only happens at a very special time of year. One never knows for sure when the maple sap will start to run or for how long as with most farming, it’s entirely weather dependent. For the sap to flow from the maple trees,  temperatures must be below freezing at night and above freezing during the day. It’s that freezing and thawing that draws the sap up into the trees. This differentiation of temperatures typically occurs in March so to have a run in February is truly a treat!


Mmmm... Good! My daughter Julia's first taste of warm maple syrup of the season! Do you think she likes it?
Of course all NH made pure maple syrup is delicious any time its eaten, but if you’ve never tasted maple syrup moments after it’s been made while it’s still warm… oh my, you’re in for a real treat! It truly is one of my very favorite things – something my family and I anxiously look forward to each spring. As we awoke this morning to snow flurries and threats of colder temperatures and continuous snow all week, I realize maybe I was a bit too eager in my hopes for Spring and that the groundhog may have been right after all!


Innkeeper
The Inn at Valley Farms

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