There are a lot of things we can live without but, along with air and water, pure maple syrup just happens to be on the ‘can’t live without’ list. A maple syrup breakfast is always the first Welcome Home meal when offspring arrive for a visit and they know to let that warm liquid spill off the pancakes to mingle and compliment the savory foods… eggs, bacon or sausage. Ummmm….
But that’s not all. They might taste the cherished syrup again in baked beans, caramelized carrots, puddings, winter squash or a pork recipe, just to name a few. We do love it…. so much in fact, that our New England daughter and husband, who were married in Gloucester last June, chose Maine maple syrup for their wedding favors.And now we live smack in the middle of maple syrup country in New Hampshire where supplies are plentiful. The New Hampshire industry produces nearly 90,000 gallons of the amber liquid. In addition, there’s a plethora of New Englanders who produce it just for their own tables.
The season usually begins in southern New Hampshire in late February and runs through mid-April, depending on weather conditions. Ideal conditions of night time temperatures in the low 20s and daytime temperatures warm to highs of 30s to low 40s cause the sap in frozen trees to flow through the tapped holes during the day.
This year the weather has the maple syrup producers worried. The winter has been milder than usual and needed snowfall is light. The sap is flowing early. Producers in southern New Hampshire are tapping their trees now amidst some fear that the production time may be cut short by an early spring. It may mean less maple syrup which will mean higher prices for consumers at the market. On the other hand, if the weather holds, it could be the longest season ever. Only Mother Nature knows for sure.
Before we know the answers, we plan to visit one or two of the Sugar Houses that are close by in Strafford County and learn more about this ancient tradition that began long before the Europeans’ arrival. And to be safe, we just may purchase a reserve in case of a shortage because how could we exist with an inadequate supply?