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Maple sugaring season in Connecticut

March 11, 2014

Being from New England and having family that came from Vermont, real maple syrup is something I’ve grown up with. For those of you that have never had it – no other syrup compares. Most of the products sold in stores are maple-flavored syrups or simply “pancake syrup” and simply can’t stack up against the real thing.

Real maple syrup is extracted by tapping sugar maples for their sap. The season is short – you need freezing nights and warm, sunny days to extract the sap.  If you start too early or too late, you won’t get anything. The traditional collection process involves tapping a spout into the tree and having the sap flow into a bucket hung beneath the spout. Once the sap is collected, you have to evaporate off the water in a sugarhouse until you get the syrup.  The syrup is graded from light to dark, with the darker colors having a stronger maple flavor.

While not nearly as large a producer as nearby neighbor Vermont, Connecticut does have a maple syrup industry.  Our season typically lasts from early February until late March, but the unusually cold winter has significantly delayed the start of the season this year.

Maple Syrup Tapping

Nikon D90 with 18-200 lens; Processed in LR

The traditional method of tapping sugar maples for their sap.

Maple Sugar House

Nikon D90 with 18-200 lens; Processed in LR

Steam rises from the evaporator in the sugarhouse. Because it has been so cold, there was no sap to evaporate – this is a demonstration using plain water.

Credit to Enhanced by Zemantahttp://www.ctmaple.org for helping me with this article.
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From → Photography

8 Comments
  1. I remember trying to sap trees when I was a kid…. I don’t remember ever getting any syrup… a real bummer!

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  2. Roses are Red,
    Violets are Purple:
    Sugar is sweet, and
    so is Maple Surple.

    Like

  3. I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but love real maple syrup. Here in the UK there are two types: real and pretend. The pretend stuff is watered down with lots of normal sugar syrup, the real stuff is full of flavour. In Finland they tap silver birch trees in a similar way and make a drink from the sap. I haven’t tried that yet.

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  4. Our local nature preserve has many sugar maple trees, and the first sign of spring is when the trees are tapped . . . ruining the cross country ski trails in the process, but well worth the sweet treat.

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  5. Once one has tasted the Real Thing, one can never go back to the fake stuff! We live in CT, and our street is lined with sugar maples. About ten years ago, for two or three seasons, someone went around and asked permission from those of us with sugar maples to tap them. We readily agreed. It was SO cool to eat pancakes drizzled in maple syrup that had come at least partially from our own trees.

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    • That is pretty cool. I did see on the site I referenced in my blog that they are looking for people who have trees that can be tapped.

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  6. Julie permalink

    Spring isn’t coming until the sugar maples are tapped. When we get the timing of our visit right, we can tap the sugar maples on our cottage property and boil the sap for syrup. Nothing is better than when you do it yourself. This weekend, we’ll head out to one of the local sugar bushes for a traditional pancake breakfast.

    I love both the pictures you used to represent the maple season. I blogged about a nearby maple syrup operation last year. You might want to have a look at that post: http://onegoodpicture.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/sugar-shack/

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  7. We have friends that still make maple syrup. You are right once you taste the real thing you will changed forever.

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