REGION – On Sunday, March 24 sugarhouses across the state took part in the 36th annual Maine Maple Sunday. The event is a tradition for many families who venture out to watch the boiling operation and sample maple products.

Vincent Emery, at front, and Maisy Emery, both of Livermore enjoy vanilla ice cream topped with maple syrup at Maple Valley Farms in Jay on Sunday, March 24. (Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear)

 

After a painfully slow start to the season, Sunday was the first good day for collecting sap, said Tony Couture of Maple Valley Farms in Jay. “Last year we produced about 140 gallons of syrup in February,” he said. “We’ve only boiled about six gallons so far this season. We had freezing temperatures last night and the weather today is great, so the sap is finally running good.”

Maple Valley Farms guests were greeted by Tony’s wife, Irene Couture. As they arrived, she took their photos to post to the business Facebook page. “It is a great memory for people to have,” she said.

The Coutures have about 2,700 taps set, Irene Couture said.

Samples of taffy on snow, maple candy, maple peanuts, and ice cream topped with maple syrup were given out. It didn’t take long for siblings Vincent and Maisy Emery of Livermore to eye the ice cream samples. As they settled in to eat the sweet treat, Maisy exclaimed, “Yummy!”

 

Tony Couture of Maple Valley Farms in Jay pours filtered maple syrup in a double-boiler Sunday, March 24. The syrup will be ready for bottling after it is heated to 180 degrees Fahrenheit (Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear)

 

Tony Couture filtered the day’s first 6-gallon batch of syrup into a double-boiler to be heated and bottled. He said syrup had to reach a temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit before bottling.

“We do it all right here,” he said. “The double boiler has spigots to fill the bottles.”

Guests were also invited to fill out a raffle ticket to win one of four jugs of maple syrup.

At Long Drive Acres in Wilton, David and Kristi Leavitt welcomed visitors and invited them to learn about their sugarhouse operations.

Hannah Webber and Mary Young make maple cream Sunday, March 24 at Long Drive Acres in Wilton. (Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear)

“This is a family affair,” David Leavitt said as he introduced nieces and nephews who were helping with the day’s activities.

Leavitt said he typically puts out about 1,500 taps but with the heavy snow this past winter, he was only able to put out 1,000.

Hannah Webber and Mary Young helped make maple cream. Young explained the process. “Sap is heated to 219 degrees to become syrup,” she said. “We cook it to 234 degrees and then run it through an ice bath to cool it to 70 degrees.”

The cooled syrup is then run through a gear pump which breaks down the sugar crystals and turns syrup into a smooth cream.

Beckett Hamlin, 6, of Sidney at left helps his mom Erika Hamlin and Seth Webber fill a bag with maple cotton candy Sunday, March 24 at Long Drive Acres in Wilton. (Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear)

“This is pure maple,” said David Leavitt. “Some people like it with a few crystals left in it but I prefer it smooth.”

“David is the boss today so smooth it is,” joked Webber.

Webber said she uses maple cream on fish, carrots and Brussel sprouts.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.