It’s March in New Hampshire. The grey sky threatens snow that will inevitably fall in a few hours. Despite this wintery omen, the buzz of spring is in the air and it takes the form of maple syrup. It’s Maple Madness, New Hampshire maple syrup season.
The entire state embraces the madness of maple sugaring season – typically from mid-February to mid-April, and with a choose-your-own-adventure New Hampshire maple syrup tour, you’ll immerse yourself completely. Winding roads overlooking scenic mountain views will lead you to cities and one-street towns alike, met by friendly locals and a lot of sugar in its various maple forms to power you through.
A quick drive from Manchester to North Woodstock is the perfect place to start your New Hampshire maple syrup voyage.
The Best of New Hampshire Maple Syrup
On the main drag of North Woodstock is a yellow, nondescript building, easy to overlook, but despite its simple appearance, it’s a must stop on your New Hampshire maple syrup tour. Inside of Fadden’s General Store & Maple Sugarhouse lie the secrets of sugaring passed on through the Fadden family for no less than five generations.
Fadden’s maple syrup is an award-winning sugarhouse, deemed the best maple syrup in New Hampshire by the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association, and winner of a Governor’s Cup for the best maple syrup in all of North America.
James Fadden, the current sugar master, believes that his sugarhouse excels over others due much in part to his attention to cleanliness. He cleans his equipment every single day. Further, he processes his sap daily, not leaving it to sit for any length of time in tanks. Fresh and clean wins it all.
Down on the New Hampshire Maple Syrup Farms
Tucked even further into the majestic White Mountains is The Rocks, a sprawling estate in Bethlehem that boasts hiking trails and a Christmas tree farm, making it a year-round destination. However, since this trip is for all things maple, early spring is when you’ll want to visit to get the full New Hampshire maple syrup experience – learn the history of sugaring, help tap a tree and, of course, taste a sample or two. You may even get the VIP treatment with a horse-drawn carriage ride.
If all of that New Hampshire maple syrup talk is giving you the hankering for something a little more savory, mosey across the street to the AAA Three Diamond Adair Country Inn & Restaurant where you’ll be greeted by roaring fires, friendly faces, delicious food and drinks that pay homage to the ongoing maple festivities and a warm bed should you need a place to rest your head for the evening. Book your stay now.
If you’re riding the sugar high, the Kearsarge Sugar Festival in Warner is March 21-22nd, which marks New Hampshire’s 25th annual Maple Weekend. Sample your way around town to the nine sap houses demonstrating the art of syrup making, with activities for all ages. Most local producers will open their doors for samplings, as well as other maple-themed offerings like baked goods, candy and beverages. You can even download a “passport” to track your stops and turn in your completed card to the NHMPA for a chance to win a prize!
When you’re going on a trip, sometimes the best thing to do is to follow your stomach. In recent years, food tourism has become more and more popular.
Drink in the Sweetness
If live music is your thing, visit Contoocook Cider Company in Contoocook. They’ll lure you in with fresh donuts, which will pair perfectly with their seasonal Fireside Maple Cider and whatever local band is taking the stage when you stop. Put your dancing shoes on!
There’s no need to trek to the mountains to experience maple culture. Ancient Fire Mead & Cider in Manchester has been incorporating New Hampshire Maple Syrup into their products since 2005, and their constant stream of fun and delicious flavors will make it hard for you to choose your favorite.
Masters of the Sap
Whoever the sugar master, wherever the trees, making maple syrup follows the same process that it has for hundreds of years. Historically, sugar makers collected sap by hanging metal buckets from maple trees and emptying the buckets daily. Today, rubber tubing carries sap to a central repository where it’s boiled. The water evaporates, the sugar concentrates to 66.9% and it’s officially deemed maple syrup. As you drive from town to town, you’ll see tubing draped throughout the countryside, along roads and in backyards.
New Hampshire doesn’t party alone, and Vermont and Canada boast similar festivities. Vermont celebrates the first crop of the season with Maple Open House Weekend March 21-22, 2020. If you can’t make it out that early in the spring, St. Albans holds its Vermont Maple Festival at the end of the season from April 24-26. Cross the border into Canada, where from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, getting your fix is always a short drive away. Whether you’re partial to New Hampshire Maple Syrup, or that from Canada, Vermont or elsewhere, there is no fundamental difference between syrup from one locale over another since the sugar content is standardized. What everyone can agree on is that maple syrup is delicious!
What’s your favorite way to use maple syrup? Pancakes? Over oatmeal? Tell us in the comments.
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