As the snow begins to melt and winter turns to spring, farmers head out to tap trees and collect the sap. Mid February to mid-April is maple sugar season in the White Mountains of North Conway. Producing upwards of 90,000 gallons of maple syrup annually, the maple industry is a staple in New Hampshire.
This sweet tradition dates back centuries to Native Americans and European settlers. While there is no factual account, many believe that a Native American launched his tomahawk into a tree, releasing the sweet sap within. Believing the liquid was water, his wife used the sap to cook meat.
As the temperature begins to warm, the sap in the maple trees begins to flow. Collecting thousands of gallons of sap, maple farmers begin the process of transforming the sap into syrup and other goodies. For many seasoned farmers, the process is a labor of love as it takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make just one bottle of syrup.
When the trees begin to thaw, the pressure within the trees build and the sap begins to flow. The chilly nights and sunny days create the perfect combination for tree tapping. Using spouts, plastic tubing and buckets, maple producers set out in late February to harvest sap. With full buckets, they return to their sugar houses to boil the sap over a fire. As the sweet steam rises into the New England air, the sap is concentrated into syrup before being filtered, graded and bottled into this household staple.
There are several sugaring houses throughout the area. During late March, many of the producers join together for Maple Weekend. The two day celebration of all things maple features open houses, sugar house tours, sugar on snow events and more.
On your next New Hampshire vacation, be sure to stop by a sugar house or pick up a bottle of our famous maple syrup!