By Analiese Paik
Now is the time to plan an outing to a local sugar house to learn about the ancient art of making syrup from the sap of maple trees. Since maple syrup is produced only in northeastern North America, I consider it to be one of the most special agricultural products made in Connecticut. If you’ve never seen sap collected from sugar maples and cooked down until it’s syrup, make it your mission to attend one of the events below. Bring the kids and a reusable bag to buy syrup where available. When you get home, make yourself a Bourbon Spice Rack, a maple syrup-inspired cocktail crafted at Barcelona Fairfield. Click here for the recipe.
Maple sugaring, which takes place from the beginning of February to the end of March, starts with tapping maple trees and slinging collection buckets from them to collect the sap. More advanced collections systems use plastic vacuum tubing, but no matter the technology, it takes 40 to 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
Collected sap is brought to the maple sugar house to be boiled in an evaporator until it reaches the syrup stage. It’s then poured off, strained and cooled for bottling. We have three excellent maple syrup producers in Fairfield County that host open houses and other events during the season. These events are top picks for families with kids and adults that never tire of experiencing the joys of Mother Nature and ingenuity of human beings.
Ambler Farm, Wilton (follows organic practices)
Open House Saturday, March 1 and Saturday, March 8, 2014
Come experience a New England tradition: turning sap into syrup! Kids and families will have an opportunity to tap a tree, take the maple syrup taste test, and more! This event is free and open to the public.
257 Hurlbutt Street Wilton, CT 06897-2708
Warrup’s Farm, Redding (Certified Organic)
Free maple sugaring demonstrations from noon until 5 pm during the first three weekends in March
John Read Road, Redding, CT,
1.2 miles north of Redding Center, off Route 107
Each of the first three weekends in March, owner Bill Hill treats guests to a free lesson as he keeps a close eye on the wood-fired cooker, taking care not to let the syrup overcook. Visitors are welcome to watch the process, ask questions, and have a taste. Maple syrup and maple candies will be available for sale. It’s best to visit Warrup’s website for any schedule updates or call 203-938-9403 to plan your visit.
Saturday, March 1 and Sunday, March 2, 2014
11:00 am-3:00 pm
$5 admission for members/$10 non-members
children 3 and under are free
39 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford CT 06903
Visit the little red sugarhouse on Heckscher Farm and see firsthand how sap is turned into sweet maple syrup. Witness how trees are tapped and sap is collected, make a maple-themed craft, go on a scavenger hunt, have your face painted and more.
On Saturday, watch four local teen chefs, including Chopped winner Hunter Zampa, create delicious dishes using SM&NC maple syrup from 11:30 am-1:30 pm. The public will sample and vote for their favorite dish. On Sunday, enjoy the popular pancake brunch from 11:00 am-2:00 pm, served of course with SF&NC maple syrup. Don’t forget to purchase a pint of your very own freshly made maple syrup to enjoy at home.
Daily Admission Fees:
Members: $5 per person | Non-Members: $10 per person
Family Plus Members: and above levels and all children 3 & under: FREE
Pancake Brunch (SUNDAY only, 11am – 2pm) Additional $5 fee.
Tickets for the event and brunch are available for online purchase here.