At sugarhouses across New England—and even in cities like Somerville, Massachusetts—you can watch sap being boiled down to syrup and taste the delicious results in the next few weeks.
Although the relatively warm winter may be speeding up the sugaring season, rest assured that there will be syrup. The spring cycle of below-freezing nights and warm days that causes sap to flow came early in some areas, but syrup production should be fine so long as the trees don’t start to bud, according to a recent Associated Press article. Once maple trees bud, the sap develops an off taste.
Massachusetts environmental groups—including one that has tapped trees right in the city of Somerville—are offering special celebrations of the season, which are great for kids. I’ve listed a few below, by location and date.
If my list doesn’t show anything near you, try visiting the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association website, which has a directory and map of sugarhouses in the state. Other states have similar associations.
Saturday, March 3
Go to Groundwork Somerville’s annual Maple Syrup Boil Down to watch as sap from local city trees is boiled down to create syrup, using equipment made and maintained by Somerville High School students. Free syrup-tasting, music, and children’s activities, with waffles and syrup available for sale. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Somerville Community Growing Center on Vinal Avenue (near Union Square).
Saturday, March 10, and Sunday, March 11
The Mass Audubon Blue Hills Trailside Museum and the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation offer a variety of activities at the annual Maple Sugar Days at Brookwood Farm, including making maple syrup. Free shuttle rides are offered on the “Maple Express Trolley.” From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Fee; no registration required.
Sunday, March 11
Saturday, March 17, Sunday, March 18
At Mass Audubon’s Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, re-enactors in period garb lead 90-minute tours about American Indian and colonial sugaring techniques. Visitors can also see sap made into syrup at a modern sugarhouse and sample the final product. Pancakes with syrup, “sap dogs” (hot dogs boiled in sap), and maple popcorn will be available for sale. If you sample too much, walk it off on one of the numerous trails. Pre-registration is highly recommended; the event is free for children ages 3 and under and runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.
Also on Wednesday, March 14, the sanctuary is offering “Tree to Table,” a program about maple sugaring for children 4 to 6 years old, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and again from 1 to 2:30 p.m.; pre-registration and fee required.
Saturday, March 17, and Sunday, March 18
Take a tour of the sugar bush at Mass Audubon’s educational Drumlin Farm and see sap being collected and boiled down before or after enjoying the annual Sap-to-Syrup Farmer’s Breakfast. The tour includes visits to other spring delights, such as the first baby animals of the season. Programs run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. both days. Tickets and reservations required.
Great Kids, Great Outdoors is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Kristen Laine and Heather Stephenson. Heather wrote this post.