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Taste the sweetness of springtime
REGION -- The state's maple producers are gearing up this Sunday for Maine Maple Sunday.
Join in as maple producers around the state celebrate Maine Maple Sunday and open the doors of their sugarhouses for the public to join them in this rite of spring. Here's a chance to see firsthand how 40 gallons of maple sap are turned into just one gallon of golden delight you pour over hot pancakes or ice cream.
Most sugarhouses offer tastings and live demonstrations of how syrup is produced, from tap to table. Many offer a variety of other treats and activities, including syrup on pancakes or ice cream, sugarbush tours, sleigh or wagon rides, and lots more.
Many sugarhouses will arrange special tours and demonstrations for groups on other days as well -- call them to make arrangements.
This is an excellent opportunity to plan a family outing by visiting Maine sugarhouses.
Locally, two maple producers are offering tasting and live demonstrations of how syrup is produced, from tap to table this Sunday.
They are Hall Farms of East Dixfield and Thurston Maple Products of Peru.
For Hall Farms, on Rt. 2 in East Dixfield, this will be their 28th year participating in Maine Maple Sunday. Owner Rodney Hall and his family tap nearly 9,000 maple trees and offer guided tours and maple treats, including cotton candy and ice cream with maple syrup.
The day begins here with their annual all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast with their own maple syrup from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (while supplies last) in the farm's Old School House. There will also be sausage from Thorndike's farm in Strong along with bake beans, coffee and of course on a dairy farm, don't can't forget the milk. Cost is $8 for adults and $5 for children under age 12. No early birds please.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., see the farm, tour the sugarhouse, see the Holsteins and their calves, taste the delicious syrup, featuring for sale items like maple cotton candy, maple whoopie pies and maple syrup. In the schoolhouse, they have the maple store and don't forget the maple cotton candy.
There will be demonstrations on the evaporations on the evaporator display (6x14 with reverse osmosis), making 35 gallons an hour.
Stop in and enjoy free ice cream with maple syrup (while supplies last). The daily barn will be open for display and tours. They can accommodate bus tours and a restroom is available.
For more information, call 645-2862 or 1-888-656-4367, or visit www.hallfarms.com.
Thurston Maple Products in Peru at 45 Mineral Springs Rd. is a second-generation farm owned by Wayne and Adelia Thurston.
They had more than 500 people visit their facility during the last Maine Maple Sunday.
The day gets underway at the Peru Rec Center (old Peru School) where the Friends of PES will hold a pancake breakast with Thurston's maple syrup from 8 to 10:30 a.m. This will be all you can eat pancakes, with maple syrup, bacon or sausage and a beverage, in conjunction with the Thurston Family Farm of Peru. Cost is $5 for adults and $2 for children ages eight and under. There will also be an indoor yard sale and a 50/50 raffle. Proceeds to benefit the Peru Community Center.
At Thurston's from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be horse-drawn wagon rides (weather permitting) to transport people to the sugar shack from the main road. Boots are recommended.
Enjoy homemade ice cream and refreshments in the warmth of their rustic visitors' center. They will also have various educational displays for your enjoyment. And of course, there will be maple syrup available for purchase. Restoom available and retail sales offered.
To get here, follow the arrows on Dickvale Road for three miles, then turn left onto Mineral Spring Road. For more information, call 357-8943 or 562-7098.
Maple syrup is the best substitute for sugar. When you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, don't forget to consider using maple syrup, which contains fewer calories and a higher concentration of minerals. A few quick serving ideas include: using maple syrup in place of table sugar as a sweetener -- it gives team and coffee a unique tasts; pouring maple syrup on oatmeal topped with walnuts and raisins; adding maple syrup and cinnamon to cooked sweet potatoes; combining maple syrup with orange juice and tamari and using it as a marinade for baked tofu or tempeh; and spreading peanut butter on a piece of whole wheat toast, topping it with sliced bananas, and then drizzling maple syrup on top for a sweet, gooey treat.
Maple syrup is also an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese and a good source of zinc.
A complete listing of sugarhouses in Maine that participate in Maine Maple Sunday is available at www.getrealmaine.com.