Friday, April 13, 2012

Maine Maple Sunday 2012

Maine Maple Sunday has come and gone in a haze of maple sugary goodness, and I have yet to blog about it. Though the maple syrup I bought should last the whole year, my memories are already fading. Perhaps the most important lesson I've learned is to bring my laptop with me so I can record everything in the relaxed Vacationland setting. Luckily, I did take some notes. Here's where we went:

  1. Parsons Family Farm, in Gorham. You know how the Corleones (in the Godfather) and the Kennedys had family compounds, where the grown-up kids would build their houses on the patriarch's vast property? This is kind of the same idea, only they're not mobsters or aristocrats, they're farmers. They had just built a barn that looked like it was specifically for serving our Maple Sunday pancake breakfast, but it probably housed the tractors the rest of the year. Still, the pancakes (and syrup) were delicious, and we got a good talk over the sap boiler. This year, it seems, was not a good one (bad weather, early budding): they got 3,100 gallons this year, compared to 8,000 last year. Also on the farm were a mini horse (who bites), two-week-old calves, and presumably a lot of cows, some horses, and other farm stuff. I bought a quart of syrup.
  2. Merrifield Farm, in Gorham. This is a big farm, and they were very well-organized. They had a band playing for entertainment while you wait in line to see the boiler. Also, the staff had matching "Got Maple?" T-shirts. I bought lots here: maple smoked cheese, maple peanuts/almonds, and fudge. They also had a Maine candy I'd never seen before: maple needhams, made with coconut and potatoes (among other things) and covered in chocolate. They also had plenty of animals: cows/steers, a wet golden retriever (it was rainy), ducks, piglets, goats, and samples of ice cream with maple syrup, maple butter, maple cream, and maple smoked cheese.
  3. Jo's Sugarhouse, in Gorham. We'd been here before, two years ago, I think. It's a smaller sugar house where they pump the sap across a pond and uphill. They had some excellent maple products: whoopie pies, lollipops, ice cream samples, maple cream on pretzels, etc., but the real draw was the grass-fed hamburgers we had for lunch. They also had a chicken tractor.
  4. Balsam Ridge, in Raymond. I think we'd been here before, too, but I don't remember it so clearly. It's a Christmas tree farm that also makes maple sugar products. They also had a quarter horse / Arabian mix, which I'm told is a horse for riding, not for working. (It's smaller.) They use reverse osmosis before boiling the maple sap, and they had a demonstration of how to make maple cream. It's basically whipped and cooled maple syrup, so crystals form, giving it a creamy white texture. They also had fudge, candy, nuts, and needhams.
  5. Russell Farm Maple Bakery, in Poland. Though advertised as a maple bakery, this turned out to be someone's house, where the wife has an agricultural license to sell baked goods. She had some awesome stuff, too, like maple french toast, maple-covered peanuts, zucchini bread, and muffins. Their sugar shack was still under construction, so their boiler was outside! This was their fourth year making (and selling) syrup, but their first year doing Maple Sunday.
  6. Coopers Maple Products, in Windham. I had this on the list because it said they have 25 mini horses. But by the time we got there, we were tired and it was overcrowded, so we just drove by. Maybe next year.
  7.  Grandpa Joe's Sugar House, in North Baldwin. This was our third year visiting Grandpa Joe's, and it was a last-minute decision to go for the sausages. We didn't even bother visiting the sugar shack.
Let the sap flow ever in your direction.

For more maple sugary goodness, view my Maine Maple Sunday photo album.

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