Every winter, as the temperatures start to come back up, maple sap starts to flow. For small-scale operators and farmers, that means heading to their sugar shacks to start transforming that sap into syrup (though sometimes it’s made into other products like this sparkling water). Here are 10 things you might not know about maple syrup.
While “sugar shack” conjures up an image of a tiny hut with a billowing chimney in the deep woods, some of them are open to the public during sap season. These farms are offering an experience perfect for breakfast and maple lovers alike: pop-up pancake houses. That’s right: These maple farmers are serving up fresh-made pancakes, waffles and other maple-friendly foods with homemade syrup (which is so, so different than pancake syrup, by the way), all served right from—or at least nearby—their sugar shacks. If you live in maple country, keep your eye out for a pop-up near you. Here are three of our favorites.
Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn: Angelica, N.Y.
Despite its off the beaten path location, many locals and visitors alike travel to Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn to devour their all-you-can-eat buckwheat pancakes with their house-made syrup. This family-owned and -operated business has been producing maple syrup since the 1850s, and many folks say that coming here is a blast from the past.
Visitor Michelle Milliken says, “My husband and I drove about and hour and a half to finally see for ourselves what everyone was talking about at Maple Tree Inn. It was well worth the drive. This place is adorable! The food was amazing, the maple syrup was so fresh, and who can say no to all-you-can-eat pancakes?”
The Red Bucket Sugar Shack: Worthington, Mass.
For more than 30 years, The Red Bucket Sugar Shack has been run by LeAnn Mason and her daughter, Melissa Miller. You will find this gem tucked in the hills of Worthington, Massachusetts, and overlooking the sugar bush. And you won’t be able to miss the star of the show, Tommy the Tree, which grows right through the building that was built around it.
“We’ve been going there for 40 years,” says loyal customer Thomas Lancour. “Few things have changed. It’s like going back in time! Love it!”
Kinney’s Sugarhouse: Knox, Maine
Kinney’s Sugarhouse, unlike many others in the industry, is open year round. (Though they recommend contacting them first during the “off” season if you plan to stop in.) They gladly welcome visitors and locals alike to their sugar house and offer both personal and group tours. Even during the colder months when sap isn’t flowing they often are making maple products—that are, by the way, certified organic!—on demand. They also have a New England gift shop on site that specializes in gifts from Maine.
What are you waiting for? If you live close enough to a sugar shack, drive on over and enjoy some breakfast or maple-infused treats. And if this is the first you’ve heard of a sugar shack (sorry!), you can still enjoy some yummy maple treats and pretend you’re visiting one. These maple butterscotch brownies or these maple-glazed green beans are a delicious place to start!