13th annual Maple Taste and Tour is March 19 and 20

Category:  Community
Tuesday, March 15th, 2016 at 11:08 AM
13th annual Maple Taste and Tour is March 19 and 20 by Ryan Smith
Photo by Ryan Smith

"Take some more," Jan Woods cheerfully ordered, pushing a baking pan chockful of homemade leaf-shaped maple candies back toward a group of parents (myself among them) after it'd already made its way around the room once.

"I didn't bring these here to take them home!"

You're pretty awesome, I thought, taking another little handful and offering Woods -- the maple sugar-making maven behind Hurry Hill Maple Farm in Edinboro -- a smile as my thank-you.

She'd just finished talking with a group of Boy Scouts (my 12-year-old among them), giving them the low-down on the just-wrapped-up maple sugaring season: That brief, sweet spell that falls smackdab between winter and spring here in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Earlier that day, she'd spent some time at the Edinboro library, reading maple-centric Curious George adventures to a group of preschoolers (my three-year-old among them), and teaching them, too, a bit about life on the maple farm.

"It's a lot of work," Woods told the kids (and that's true: It takes 40 gallons of maple tree sap to make just one gallon of maple syrup) but the time-tested craft -- and its reward -- are something special indeed.

Seriously, if you've never been to a maple sugar house, you should check one out sometime. Whether it's done by old-school or more-modern techniques, you'll see something kind of amazing -- something born of the trees, of the mud, of the cold of winter and the warmth of spring coming to life in sweet, sweet form.

And c'mon: The stuff is delicious.

Turns out, there are a whole bunch of bona fide maple sugar producers around the region. Thirteen different ones, small- and large-scale, make up the Northwestern Pennsylvania Maple Association. And, it turns out, now's the perfect time to plan on checking some of them out, as all 13 will be participating in the 13th annual Maple Taste and Tour, running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday, March 19 and Sunday, March 20.

Head out to any of them, and you'll get to see a good little bit of the folk science/magic that's all around us this time of year. Who knows? You may even learn how to tap the sweet stuff that might be in your own backyard.

To learn more about the craft of maple sugar-making in northwestern Pennsylvania, and for a full list of the sugar houses participating in this year's Maple Taste and Tour, visit pamaple.org.

Ryan Smith can be reached at rsmith@eriereader.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @ryanmsmithplens.

Erie Reader: Vol. 7, No. 10
Now Available — Pick It Up Today

CURRENT

The day after Erie’s mayoral primary election

14-year-old Alton Northup's thinking is progressive and something worth listening to. 

Who will win, and who should win, as mayoral momentum mounts

Leader - ship

The Downtown Edinboro Art & Music Festival provides music and art for the community.

IN THIS ISSUE

Who will win, and who should win, as mayoral momentum mounts

Leader - ship

The Downtown Edinboro Art & Music Festival provides music and art for the community.

Basement Transmissions comes to the rescue amidst library renovations.

The cohesiveness of Jensen & Three Sharks is on full display on this debut album. 

Edinboro’s Happy Mug Coffee stirs up warm feelings.

Freedom to be screwed

Signals Midwest grace the stage of Basement Transmissions again, but at its new location. 

Can you visit more than 15 Erie art locations in three hours during Erie Art Museum’s next Gallery Night?

Country music superstar and all-around national treasure Willie Nelson continues to make great music