Put maple sugaring on your bucket list

Activities in NY, PA, and NJ explore this age-old harbinger of spring

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  • LadyDragonflyCC, Creative Commons

  • Photo provided Fresh maple syrup will be available at Lusscroft Farm in Wantage, N.J.

  • Mark Goebel, Creative Commons

Did you know...

It takes 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of maple syrup.
The sugar maple is New York’s state tree.
New York is one of the top maple syrup producers in the world. For the past several years, Vermont has held tight to the #1 spot, with New York and Maine battling it out for #2 and #3.
Sugar maple is the most popular species used for making syrup, but red, black, or silver maples are also sometimes tapped.
Maple syrup’s not just for pancakes — check out recipes for using maple in every meal at blogs.cornell.edu/cornellmaple/recipes.
Source: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Maple sugaring has been an important industry in North America ever since an early settler noted that native Americans “get juice from the trees and distill it down into a very sweet and agreeable liquid.”

Until the early 19th century, the colonies used maple sugar cakes as currency until honey and sugar cane were introduced.

The process of extracting sap from trees has remained much the same since the 17th century. Activities in the area celebrate this special time of year, when maple trees start producing sap — when temperatures rise above freezing, but before the weather gets consistently warm. Because sugaring maple trees requires such specific temperatures, this process occurs exclusively in North America.

Here are some activities in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey that will help get your family in on the action:

Pennsylvania Pocono Environmental Education Center, 538 Emery Road, Dingmans Ferry

Sugar Shack Scramble, Saturday, March 2, and Sunday, March 3, from 9 a.m. to noon each day — Hike through the woods to the “Two Saps” Sugar Shack and enjoy hot cocoa and pancakes with fresh maple syrup. Sign up for a 9 or 9:30 a.m. start time.

Space is limited. Call 570-828-2319 to register. For more information email peec@peec.org or visit peec.org.

Kettle Creek Environmental Education Center, 8050 Running Valley Road, Stroudsburg

Public Maple Sugaring Day, Saturday, March 2, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Ninety-minute tours of the sugarbush — a woods dominated by sugar maples — will explore the history of maple syrup in the region. Learn how to tap a maple tree to obtain sap, and watch the sap being cooked into a thick, sweet syrup that you can taste served over freshly made pancakes.

The cost is $6 for adults, $4 for children under 12. Kettle Creek members attend free of charge. Dress for the weather, and wear shoes suitable for trail walking.

The program will held on the Delaware State Forest’s Meesing Outdoor Site on Creek Road, approximately 5.5 miles north of Marshalls Creek.

For more information call 570-629-3061 or visit mcconservation.org.

New Jersey Millbrook Village, intersection of Old Mine Road and Route 602, Blairstown

A Drop in the Bucket, Saturday, March 9, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — The National Park Service and the Millbrook Village Society will present a maple sugaring demonstration at in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Join park rangers and volunteers as they demonstrate the sugaring process from tree to table. Sap from Millbrook Village maples will be boiled down in cast iron kettles over an open fire to create maple syrup. Woodstove and outdoor cooking demonstrations will showcase the use of maple products in recipes common during the 1800s.

Admission is free. In case of severe weather, the program will be held on Saturday, March 16.

For more information, call park headquarters at 570-426-2452 or visitnps.gov/dewa.

Lusscroft Farm, 50 Neilson Road and 4-H Trail, Wantage

Maple Sugarin' Open House, Saturday, March 23, and Sunday, March 24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day — Volunteers at the Lusscroft Farm Sugar Shack will give demonstrations on how to tap maple trees, collect the sap, and make the syrup. Fresh maple syrup will be available for purchase.

Admission is free. The program is being presented by The Heritage and Agriculture Association, the NJ Tree Farm Program, the NJ Society of American Foresters, and the NJ DEP/Division of Parks and Forestry. For more information email lusscroftfarm@gmail.com, visit lusscroftfarm.org, or call 973-288-2760.

New York Minnewaska State Park Preserve, 5281 Route 44-55, Kerhonkson

Homeschoolers: Maple Sugaring Program at Minnewaska, Thursday, March 7, from 1 to 3 p.m. — Join other homeschoolers to experience the magic that is maple sugaring. The grop will search for and tap sugar maple trees using traditional tools. Each child will be able to taste test maple syrup, maple sap and at least one kind of maple candy. This program is recommended for children between the ages of seven and ten, accompanied by a parent or guardian over age 18. This program will meet in the Awosting Parking Area or Jenny Lane.

Pre-registration is required. Call Minnewaska at 845-255-0752.

Gardiner Library, 133 Farmer's Turnpike, Gardiner

Super Special Storytime: Making Maple Syrup at the Gardiner Library, Thursday, March 7, from 1 to 3 p.m. — Join Children’s Librarian, Amy Laber, and Nick Martin, Park Educator from Minnewaska State Park Preserve, for a special story time all about maple syrup. Children will hear stories about maple sugaring and learn what a maple tree looks like. They’ll also be able to touch and see old-style maple sugaring tools, including a bucket, tap and hand drill. Then, with some help from their parents, each child will make their own maple tree craft that they can take home.

This program will take place during the library's normal story time for four- and five-year-olds, accompanied by a parent or guardian.

For more information, call the Gardiner Library directly at 845-255-1255.

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