Tree-to-Table: Real Maine Maple Syrup
While maple producers have been working hard all winter long, the abundant sugar and rock maple trees that make up the vast sugar bush of the northern part of Maine’s Kennebec Valley have been enjoying a long wintery nap.
For the growing legion of backyard farmers and commercial sugar makers of the region, late winter is a busy time of year. Around the middle of February, frigid nights and slightly warming days send the message that spring is on its way down into the tree’s roots. Soon after, excitement and wood smoke fill the air as maple sap gets boiled down for hours at a time into sweet, delicious maple syrup.
Maine maple syrup reflects tradition, science, and innovation, all while relying heavily on the everchanging weather. At its core, it is an age-old process, from bucket to evaporator to bottle. But every sugar-maker has stories that describe why their syrup is the best you’ve ever had.
Maine, most especially the Kennebec Valley, is proud of that tradition and annually welcomes the season by celebrating Maine Maple Sunday on the last Sunday in March. Sugar houses across the region open up the doors to their barns and welcome visitors to get a taste of that sweet stuff.
The welcoming town of Skowhegan, the heart of Maine’s most active sugaring community, celebrates this delicious food with an annual festival on the days leading up to Maine Maple Sunday. Once you’ve got some syrup of your own, pour a little on your waffles, mix a spoonful into your yogurt, or glaze a salmon filet.