The sap was boiling at the Sugar Shack this morning.
|Steam from the Roof Vents at the Sugar Shack|
Boiling during the week (as opposed to just on the weekends) means only one thing... the season is coming to an end and they are processing as much sap as they can before it looses its sweetness. This happens when the nights are consistently above freezing and the sap flows all day and night instead of just during the day.
|Boiling Sap in the Evaporator|
End of season sap will produce a darker, heavier, more sharply maple flavored syrup - Grade B - which is generally considered good for cooking. Michael and Anna actually prefer Grade B. I love the light, mild taste of the early season Grade A. This grading system would appear to be about judging the quality of syrup, but it really just refers to the translucence, which is dependent upon the time of year the sap is collected. There is also no difference in cost between the two grades.
|Old Maple Sugar Mold|
In addition to great buckwheat pancakes and syrup samples (it's hard to stick to the "one per customer" request!), the North Hadley Sugar Shack has a nice collection of old sugaring supplies on display beside their modern equipment. One more reason we love to go there! We'll be back again at some point this weekend since Sunday is the last day of boiling sap.