When plumes of steam and delicious maple syrup scents rise from the sugar houses, it’s the first sure sign that Old Man Winter is on the way out–and good reason to plan a trip to Litchfield County in the hills of Northwest Connecticut, In these scenic hills rich with sugar maple trees, mid-February to mid-March is peak time for syrup-making and many special demonstrations are available showing just how thin watery maple sap is turned into sweet golden syrup. The settings range from nature centers to family farms. Many sites offer free tastes as well as syrup and maple products for sale as tasty souvenirs.
A perennial favorite for families is a stop at Lamothe’s Sugar House in Burlington Connecituct, one of the largest operations in Connecticut with some 4,000 taps. The Lamothes also raise golden retrievers and lop-eared bunnies and children can see the adorable pups and bunnies. Tours and demonstrations of maple syrup making will go on every weekend in February and March, and there will be free samples of their maple syrup and other farm products.
Lamothes is a treasure trove of maple sugaring products from candy and granulated sugar to spice mixtures, sauces, preserves and spreads to name a few.
Choose from a large variety of Lamothe’s pure maple candy such as: Pure Maple Flavor Drops and Maple Walnut Caramels, Maple Salt Water Taffy and Peanut Clusters. For a wonderful snack try the Maple Sugar Coated Nuts and maple farmhouse kettle corn Lamothe’s also makes spice rub for pork and chicken from maple sugar and spices, savory sugar and spice, maple barbeque sauce and a maple tinted marinara sauce.
On March 3, Lamothe’s is hosting Billy Steers the Connecticut Author of “Tractor Mac” at the sugarhouse from the 11am-3pm to do a book signing, reading, meet & greet visitors. Billy Steers illustrates all of his own books and will be bringing Tractor Mac for the children to take pictures with.
Lamothe’s Sugar House is located on 89 Stone Road, Burlington, CT (860-675-5043). For more information visit their website at www.lamothesugarhouse.com.
Another chance to see maple syrup being made during the first three weekends in March is at Warrup’s Farm in Redding, an organic farm operated by the same family since the 1840s. A tour shows how the sap comes out of the trees, how it is taken to the storage tank, and then boiled down in the evaporator. Pure maple syrup and maple sugar can be purchased to take home.