Monday, March 28, 2011

Maine Maple Sugary Goodness Sunday

This weekend was another Maine Maple Sunday, complete with pancake breakfast and sap hauling races! We visited five (five!) sugar houses, but only thought to record our travels after the day was over. Next year I'll try to take pictures to help jog my future memory. Here's where we went:

  1. Morin's Maple Syrup, in Limerick. We started with their pancake breakfast (all you can eat), which was thankfully inside, because it was a cold day and those pancakes cool quickly in the cold (we learned last year). Their syrup was delicious, and they also had a wide variety of other maple products, including maple sugar candy, maple fudge, maple jelly, maple butter, maple-covered peanuts, and maple cotton candy.
  2. Hilltop Boilers, in Newfield. They had several gimmicks, which seemed to be working because the place was crowded. In addition to a pancake breakfast and hamburger lunch, they had sap lugging races (i.e., kids running back and forth carrying buckets of sap) and "animals to love and play with" (and smell). We suggested names for one of the calves (I suggested "Jeremiah Johnson"-- he was a redhead) and guessed the combined weight of four (not yet fully grown) pigs. I have yet to discover if I've won.
  3. Thurston & Peters Sugarhouse, LLC, in West Newfield. This place gave out free tastes (and sold larger cones) of maple ice cream (regular AND soft serve). But the real reason for the visit was that they use reverse osmosis as their first step in concentrating the sap. We got to see the holding tanks where the sap runs in from blue tubes that wind through the woods from tree to tree, and the RO machine that concentrates the sugar, separating out a lot of water. From there, they boil, but it takes a lot less boiling time than other places.
  4. Grandpa Joe's Sugar House in North Baldwin. This was a repeat, because they have live music and a BBQ lunch, though apparently some of the sausages weren't completely thawed and needed more time on the fire. But the music was great-- this year they had a guy playing Harry Chapin and making up his own words. This is where I bought my quart.
  5. Sweet William's in Casco. We had time to circle Sebago Lake, so we went up to this sugar house in Casco, and I'm glad we did. We took a little walk through the woods to a collection shed, where a kid explained how they collect the sap: the taps (on the trees) are connected through blue tubing, which runs downhill, and feeds into larger black tubing, which is under negative pressure via a vacuum. At the other end of the vacuum is a bathtub-like reservoir, and from there the sap gets pumped back uphill to the sugar house, where it is boiled to syrup. This place had delicious maple fudge, so I bought some.
As a side note, I also updated pictures of the living room, with a new tablecloth and curtains, and with our art up. We still need to replace the rug and recover the chairs, but that might take a while.

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