Yesterday was Maine Maple Sunday, with syrup farmers all over the state opening up their sugar shacks for tours and tastings. We visited Merrifield Farm in Gorham, where the wait was over an hour in freezing temperatures just to get in to see and smell the sap boiling. New Englanders and Canadians take their maple syrup seriously, so it was well worth the wait--plus there were pancakes served with fresh syrup, maple cotton candy, ice cream with syrup (yes people ate it in the cold), samples of maple cream, ox cart rides, live string band music, and much more.
The entrance to the sugar house. Folks were still smiling after the hour wait.
The farmer gave everyone samples of dark maple sugar--incredible!
Boiling the sap. It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup. The syrup season runs for just a few weeks in the early spring, thus explaining the high price of maple syrup. These farmers work incredibly hard, and they don't get rich from producing maple syrup. It is definitely a labor of love.
My favorite part of the morning was heading out back where syrup was boiling the old fashioned way in large kettles over wood fires. It smelled like the best breakfast you've ever tasted.
These are vintage maple sap buckets. Most farmers don't use these buckets anymore, opting instead for a system of plastic tubing, but I love these old beauties. You can still find them at flea markets around New England or online through dealers. I like to use them as planters.
What a sweet Sunday.