Maple Sugaring in New Hampshire

As the most popular pancake topping and a wonderful cooking ingredient used in both sweet and savory dishes, maple syrup has a warm place in many Americans’ hearts. New Hampshire is located in prime maple sugaring territory, and each year the state produces tens of thousands of gallons of this sweet golden liquid. For those interested in learning more, here are some fun details and historical facts about maple sugaring in New Hampshire as well as how to participate in this annual tradition yourself.

Basic Facts About Maple Sugaring

Native only to North America, maple syrup is produced throughout the northeastern United States and Canada; the maple industry in New Hampshire alone supplies almost 90,000 gallons of the sweet liquid annually. In general, New Hampshire’s maple sugaring season runs for approximately six weeks from the middle of February to the middle of April, although the prime season can fluctuate due to weather patterns.

After warmer weather causes a maple tree’s sap to thaw, this clear liquid begins to move about the tree and increase in pressure. Once the tree’s internal pressure builds up enough, the sap is ready for harvesting and will flow freely from any wound made in the tree. The best conditions for sap harvesting occur when the nights are freezing and the days are warm and sunny.

Beginning in late February, maple producers start to tap sugar maples. This process involves drilling a tiny hole in the tree’s trunk in which a spout is inserted; the sap will naturally drip from this hole into a container. Once collected, the sap is taken to a sugar house to be boiled down over a hot fire. As steam evaporates from the sap, it increases in concentration until it reaches the correct density of maple syrup. Each gallon of maple syrup takes about forty gallons of tree sap to produce.

History of New Hampshire Maple Sugaring

Native American tribes discovered that sap drawn from maple trees could be processed into sugar and maple syrup before the arrival of Europeans in North America. No one knows for certain how this discovery was made, but a number of legends have been passed down over generations about the breakthrough.

One particularly popular tale tells that a Native American chieftain threw a tomahawk at a nearby maple tree, causing sap to begin to seep from the wound. This clear sap was collected in basin, and the chieftain’s wife mistook the liquid for water. The wife then cooked recently-caught venison in the sap for her tribe. Upon eating the roasted meat, the tribe found that both the venison and the sweet leftover liquid were delicious. They quickly deduced it was the sap from the maple tree that produced this sugary, rich syrup, and thus the process of maple sugaring began in New Hampshire.

Participating in the Annual Maple Sugaring Season

Residents of New Hampshire have the privilege of being able to participate in the maple sugaring process during late winter and early spring. Multiple maple tree farms such as the 100 Acre Wood offer guided tours which teach participants about the history of maple sugaring as well as how to identify, tap and collect sap from maple trees. The owners of the 100 Acre Wood also give visitors a firsthand look at the process of converting sap into delicious maple syrup inside their Sugar Shack.

In addition, the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association will be holding their 22nd Annual Maple Weekend from March 25 through March 26. Local maple syrup makers statewide will open their doors to visitors to share their craft and provide samples of their products, including syrup and maple candy. The organization maintains a list of almost 90 maple syrup producers across the state that participate in this fun annual event.

Go Maple Sugaring with Havenwood Heritage Heights

As an example of the active and vibrant senior community that Havenwood Heritage Heights maintains, our residents will be embarking on their own maple sugaring experiences on both of our campuses this spring. Located in Concord, New Hampshire, our continuing care retirement community seeks to build a warm environment based on the camaraderie among our residents. For more information or to schedule a tour of our facilities, please contact us today.