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Massachusetts maple syrup, photo courtesy of Winton Pitnoff

Massachusetts maple syrup, photo courtesy of Winton Pitnoff

Having visions of steam wafting from a warm, cozy sugarhouse? Anticipating the delicious taste of maple syrup? Then get excited, because March is Maple Month and all of your maple-centered madness will culminate at the first ever MA Maple Weekend on March 22 and 23. Thanks in part to the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, administered by the Commonwealth’s Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR), this special event has become a reality. Pure maple syrup is the season’s first agricultural harvest, a sure sign that spring is around the corner.   Visiting a maple sugarhouse is a quintessential Massachusetts experience.  When the evenings are cold and the days are warm, it’s sugaring time. There’s a lot happening throughout Maple Month and MA Maple Weekend on March 22 – 23.  Sugarhouses across the state will be open for folks to meet the sugarmakers, observe first-hand how maple syrup is made, sample pure maple products, enjoy a pancake breakfast or visit area restaurants that feature Massachusetts maple syrup on their menu.

Sugarmaker Tom Cranston of Ashfield, photo courtesy of Cynthia Cranston

Sugarmaker Tom Cranston of Ashfield, photo courtesy of Cynthia Cranston

About 40 gallons of maple sap are needed to make a gallon of maple syrup, which takes about five days for the average maple tree to produce.  Buying Massachusetts maple is important to the local economy and the environment.  The industry preserves over 13,000 acres of land, helping keep Massachusetts green across the board.

You could also win a prize during the “Think beyond the pancake” Massachusetts maple recipe contest. To taste sweet victory, your recipe must feature 100% pure Massachusetts maple syrup and be judged to be the most creative.  The contest will be held at Williams’ Sugarhouse in Deerfield on March 18. Pure Massachusetts maple syrup is a sweet, all-natural and versatile ingredient for bakers and cooks.

For centuries, Massachusetts sugarmakers have been using maple syrup for baking and cooking in a variety of flavorful recipes including marinades, sauces, desserts, baked products and salads. The MA Maple Producers Association panel of judges will taste recipes prepared by contestants and choose the winners.  Your recipe may be published by the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association!  Contestant must submit entries by Friday March 14, complete details can be found here.

Massachusetts maple syrup products, photo courtesy of Winton Pitnoff

Massachusetts maple syrup products, photo courtesy of Winton Pitnoff

Once you make a connection with a Massachusetts sugarmaker, taste the maple syrup and understand the sugaring process, you’ll want to start your own tradition and return every year!  Full details are available from the MA Maple Producers Association. You can also go to the Mass Grown and Fresher Google map and click on the Maple Sugar Houses icon for a complete listing of farms, sugarhouses and restaurant locations.

Written By:

DAR Program Coordinator

Bonita Oehlke, DAR Program Coordinator, focuses on the Massachusetts Food Policy Council, market development for value added agricultural businesses and food entrepreneurs, food safety, and the nursery sector. She has a BS from the University of WI – Stout, an RD from the University of VA Medical Center and an MS from Boston University. She is an avid home gardener, skier and baker, and was raised on a diversified dairy farm in Minnesota.

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