As is our yearly tradition - and I do love traditions - it is maple sugaring time in the northeast which means going to an All you can Eat Pancake Breakfast.
We try to visit a different farm each year - this year coming close to the Green Mountains of Vermont.
While sugaring used to be very labor intensive, having to tap trees, hang buckets and manually collect the sap daily, today’s large operations now do it with tubing and collections systems. The sap is then put in wood burning boilers to cook off the excess water until it becomes nothing but sweet, velvety syrup.
An interesting note - Before the days of boilers, Indians used to hollow out tree trunks and place the sap in the hollow. At night the water content of the sap would freeze and they would peel the layer of ice off. Done repeatedly until fully reduced to liquid gold.
Maple sugar farms open their sugar shacks for one or two weekends in March to give tours and serve their products.
This year’s choice provided some really great fiddle music.
There may be nothing better than being out in the woods on a cold Sunday morning, enter a steamy sugar shack, sit at a communal table to drink a cup of hot coffee and stuff yourself with steaming pancakes and sausage topped with fresh maple syrup straight out of the boilers.
And then going home with a collection of maple sugar products and recipes to try.
Unfortunately our warm winter has slowed the flow of sap and production will be low this year. In fact, they say climate change will eventually move maple sugaring further and further north, the impact already showing in just one generation. It makes me so sad to think that my grandchildren may not be able to enjoy this centuries old tradition.
Or enjoy maple syrup straight from the tree