There’s nothing better than locally crafted New Hampshire maple syrup. Traditional to New England, maple sugaring has been a tell-tale sign that spring is finally near for centuries. With temperatures warming up this month, the sap in maple trees is thawing, and it is not uncommon to see sap lines connecting the maple trees in residents’ backyards.
What makes New England’s maple syrup stand out from the rest is simply how natural and unrefined it is. Believe it or not, pure maple syrup is low calorie and contains several vitamins and nutrients distinct from any other sugar and sweetener found at the grocery store. In short, pure maple syrup is nutritious and delicious!
The overall process of maple sugaring has evolved immensely with technology, and each syrup maker takes their own approach. A visit to any sugar shack in the region makes for a one-of-a-kind experience. A typical visit features an assortment of hand-crafted treats and of course an informative tour/tasting that will leave your taste buds happy and have you covered for future pancake breakfasts.
Discovering the wonders of this timeless process is a rite of passage. Known as “Maple Month,” March usually kicks off the tree tapping season in New Hampshire (though this year, things started even earlier). Typically, the sugar shacks are hopping right into April.
The 25th Annual NH Maple Weekend falls on March 21st this year, with roughly 100 sugar shacks in the Granite State participating in the maple madness. The Monadnock region is ready to showcase several maple houses of its own during the extravaganza. Visiting each sugar shack gives a chance to gather local goodies, learn new recipes, and meet the artists who have perfected this age-old craft. And of course, you get to enjoy the sweet sensation of fresh syrup firsthand.
Sugar houses like Morning Star Maple in Dublin, Parker’s Maple Barn in Mason, and Stuart & John’s Sugar House in Westmoreland are just a few good places to start. Morning Star Maple has been in the business for 25 years, and the husband and wife duo produce anything and everything maple related with their state-of-the-art maple sugaring site. From maple granola to maple cotton candy, no sugary treat is off-limits at Morning Star. (Photos of maple production and sugar shack, courtesy of Morning Star.)
Parker’s Maple Barn is a family affair as well, with the barn being family-owned for 30 years. Not only do they have a quintessential New England spot in the deep woods of rural Mason, but they have an on-site restaurant, as well! Parker’s sells everything breakfast, including only the freshest maple syrup to go with a hot stack of blueberry pancakes. Although it gets busy this time of year, you can take a stroll over to their sugar house or pick up a souvenir at their Corn Crib gift shop while you wait.
Make sure Stuart and John’s Sugar House is on the list, too! Long-time friends Stuart and John co-operate the Westmoreland shack, which is open for tours year-round with a restaurant to boot. They also serve breakfast and lunch every weekend from 7:00 am-3:00 pm through May.
Those are just a few of the crafty and cozy shacks in the area to kick-start your tour this season. The maple possibilities are endless here in the Monadnock region, so don’t miss out. Plan your spring visit today!