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Taste the sweetness of springtime
REGION -- The cold nights and warm days of early spring bring the sap run that produces Maine’s sweetest resource -- maple syrup.
The state’s maple producers are gearing up for Maine Maple Sunday -- observed this year on March 27. 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, three maple producers are offering tastings and live demonstrations of how syrup is produce, from tap to table this Sunday. They are Hall Farms of East Dixfield, Thurston Maple Products of Peru and Grandpa's Maple Syrup of Dixfield.
For Hall Farms, on Rt. 2 in East Dixfield, this will be their 26th 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 maple cotton candy and ice cream with maple syrup.
"It's still early, but we're off to a really good start," noted Hall. "It's coming just right."
The day here begins with a full breakfast of sausage, pancakes and their own maple syrup from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the farm's Old School House. Cost is $6 for adults and $4 for children under age 12. The breakfast will feature sausage from Luce's Meats in Anson.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., see the farm, tour the saphouse, see the Holsteins and their calves, taste the delicious syrup, featuring for sale items like maple cotton candy, maple whoopie pies and maple syrup. There will be demonstrations on the evaporator display (6x14 with reverse osmosis), making 35 gallons an hour. Free ice cream with maple syrup (while supplies last). The dairy 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.
Adelia said the sap has been running well for the past few days. Last year, they were tapping by February vacation.
She noted they had more than 500 people visit their facility during the last Maine Maple Sunday.
Held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thurston's will have a horse drawn wagon to transport people to the sugar shack from the main road. Enjoy homemade ice cream and refreshments in the warmth of their rustic visitors' center. Because it was such a popular treat last year, they will again be making sugar on snow.
They will have various educational displays for your enjoyment. And of course, there will be maple syrup available for purchase. Restroom available and retail sales offered.
To get here, follow the arrows on Dickvale Road for three miles, then turn left onto Mineral Springs Road. For more information, call 357-8943 or 562-7098.
At Grandpa's Maple Syrup of Dixfield, Larry Hodges, Paul Jones and Bob Withrow have worked together for the past six years to produce maple syrup.
Hodges noted that they produced 60 gallons of maple syrup last year and are hoping to increase their production to 100 gallons this year from about 1,000 trees.
Open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., people can meet the grandpas and see how the syrup is made as well as sample the product while enjoying coffee, cider, muffins and homemade ice cream served with fresh maple syrup.
To get here, follow the signs by going to the second drive off the Hall Hill Road off Rt. 2 just out of downtown Dixfield. From there, walk about 100 to 150 yards (just follow the buckets) through a trail to the sugar shack.
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 tea and coffee a unique taste; pouring maple syrup on oatmeal topped with walnuts and raisins; adding maple syrup and cinnamon to puréed 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