The sap is running! Surely a sign of spring, in the northern woods, but with a fresh 3 inches of snow on the ground, from a storm that hit on Monday, it looks like winter, still.
Luckily, this past weekend, we did get a few spring-like days. Good for all the locals and tourists who were enjoying the annual Vermont Maple Open House Weekend!
The Open House Weekend is a celebration open to the public of the maple syrup season in Vermont. It is an opportunity for the public to visit one or more “sugarhouses” throughout the state to learn about Vermont’s first agricultural crop of the year. Activities during this free event are different at each sugarhouse but include the opportunity to watch maple syrup being made (weather permitting) and often sample syrup and other maple products.
We decided to stay close to home, and actually found a sugar shack right down the road from us. So we dropped in on our neighbors, the Cook’s. We got a nice tour of the sugar shack and learned all about how the maple sap is turned into maple syrup and then how it is graded. There is a lot to it, more than just boiling down sap. One day I hope to tap some of our trees. But until that day, we can enjoy the Cook’s syrup!
(photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Outside in the yard, we enjoyed a time honored Vermont tradition of Sugar on Snow, also known as maple taffy. This is definitely a reason not to curse snow at this time of year! The maple sap is boiled past the point for syrup, it is then poured, in its molten state in little puddles on top of fresh snow. If it does not form a puddle, then it needs to be boiled longer.
To eat it a fork is twirled in the puddle (kind of like twirling spaghetti) and sampled right off the fork. It is surprisingly addictive. The maple flavor is intense. We were the last guests at the Cook’s and so they told us we could finish off the last tray of the sugar on snow, which I thought there was no way we could. But it was so good, we couldn’t stop eating it and we finished it off! Traditionally sugar on snow is served with donuts, sour dill pickles, and coffee. The pickles and coffee serve to counter the intense sweetness of the candy. The Cook’s had donuts and dill pickles. The combination really worked. We enjoyed their sugar on snow so much that we bought a half gallon of their syrup and they were kind enough to give us a sample of their maple glazed nuts. So delicious!
Sugar on Snow parties are popular here in northern New England as well as the Quebec region of Canada, where it is known as tire d’érable. If you want to host your own Sugar on Snow party this weekend, here is a great recipe and article to get you started!