A couple of weeks ago when we had that amazing nearly 70-degree day I was, like most of us probably were, thrilled by the unseasonable taste of spring. And even as I sit here writing this, outside it’s a beautiful afternoon where the temp is forecast to be in the high 50’s. It makes me a little giddy to walk outside without a coat on 🙂
Of course it’s easy to be excited by the prospect of an early spring, especially after getting walloped like we did with all that snow so late in the game! But after our visit to a Connecticut sugar house a couple weekends ago, I can no longer look at unseasonable high temperatures in the forecast without a tinge of concern.
Why? You may ask. Because I also like maple syrup on my pancakes 🙂 And more spring-like weather means less maple syrup. There’s no way to sugarcoat it (pun intended!). We need the cold!
This is just one of the interesting facts my family learned on our recent visit to Lamothe’s Sugar House in Burlington, CT.
For years, and I’m not kidding–years, we have been trying to visit and blog about a maple sugaring event here in CT. But between the short season and the generally unpredictable late winter/early spring weather, we just never managed to make that happen.
So I was thrilled when I realized that Lamothe’s Sugar House in Burlington, CT was not too far from West Hartford, where we needed to go run some errands one weekend. (Errands and an outing: my kind of multi-tasking!)
It was a lovely drive to the sugar house. One of the things I love best about writing this blog is getting to drive through so many corners of the state that I otherwise may never see! As we got closer, signs on the road made sure we knew we were headed in the right direction.
There were plenty of signs outside the sugar house as well.
The sugar house is up the driveway past the garage building. The parking area is not huge, but we didn’t have any trouble getting a spot on a Saturday afternoon.
The store is open every day, but maple syrup making demonstrations are only available weekends from late February to late March, from 1:00-4:30pm. We didn’t really know what to expect when we headed out, but as luck would have it, we arrived just about 1:00pm when they were getting ready to start their first demonstration. There isn’t really a set time for each session; they just sort of wait until a group of a decent size has gathered and then begin. The tour/demonstration lasts about 20 minutes, it’s all indoors (so you’re good to go rain or shine!) and it’s completely FREE.
Enter through the store. It’s adorable. And filled with all kinds of tempting treats. But we’ll come back to that later 🙂
The maple syrup magic happens around back to the left. It’s a small space, so you should have no trouble figuring out exactly where to go. But if you do have questions, you can always tell the person manning the store register that you are here for the tour, and they will be happy to point you in the right direction.
The first thing I’ll mention is the complimentary maple coffee (yum) and hot cider. Help yourself to a cup while you’re waiting for the demonstration to begin.
They also handed each of my kids a delicious maple lollipop, which they looooooved. Not only was this a nice treat for them, but it gave them something to do while we were learning about maple sugaring! Nothing makes a kid stand still and pay attention like when they are also sucking on a lollipop. Genius 🙂
Meanwhile, can I just pause for a moment to draw your attention to the missing bottom tooth in my big little man’s smile??? Geesh, when we started this blog he was just getting his teeth and now they are starting to fall out already. I can’t stand it! Someone please tell me how to make this whole kids growing up thing slow down a bit, ok?
After we had sampled some coffee and the kids were happy with their pops, we turned our attention to Ron, who would be our guide that afternoon. As we stood in the back room with the equipment he gave us a brief history of the local maple syrup industry, explained historical and modern techniques for tapping trees and walked us through the process of how all that raw tree sap turns into the delicious condiment we like to pour over our pancakes and waffles (by the way, for those of you left wondering by yesterday’s Facebook post, it takes 40 gallons of sap just to make ONE gallon of maple syrup; crazy, right?).
Then it was time for the best part! Syrup tasting! We got to try three varieties. I know they had official names, but unofficially they were light, dark and darker 🙂
Of course the kids loved this part.
We all agreed that we liked the “middle one” best.
After the tasting, we were able to get a closer look at the equipment.
We even got to take a peek inside and see the sap boiling.
The tour complete and our knowledge of maple syrup making expanded, we of course had to take a look around the adorable store. We picked up lots of treats here. Maple syrup (of course), maple candy, a stash of those maple lollipops (maybe those will be just as effective when I’m say, on the phone or writing blog posts 🙂 ), and some maple kettle corn, which the kiddos enjoyed on the bench outside.
The trees that Lamothe’s Sugar House gets its sap from are not actually on the premises (so you won’t be seeing them tap an actual tree and watching the sap run). But there is this one maple out front that they use for demonstrations with school groups, etc. So your kiddos can still see what the trees that produce the sap for their yummy maple syrup look like.
Between the tour, the store browsing and the snacking, I’d say we were there for about an hour. Such a perfect little afternoon outing to round out the day! And a great way to support a local CT business.
So even if you’re longing for spring, don’t forget that when you see those freezing temps in the forecast, you can at least be happy knowing that local maple syrup will be in good supply 🙂
Store Hours: Monday – Thursday 10 – 6, Friday – Saturday 10 – 5, Sunday 12 – 5
Maple Syrup Making Demonstration: Saturdays & Sundays from February 21st until March 30th (2017) from 1:00pm-4:30pm. Demonstrations are about 20 minutes long and run continuously throughout the afternoon. If temperatures have been really warm, you may want to call ahead to make sure they are still making maple syrup!
Sugar House Tour/Demonstration is FREE!
Stroller Friendly: SORT OF. Technically you could get around in there with a stroller but it’s tight. You’d be better off with a wearable baby-carrier for your non-walkers.
Coffee Mug Friendly: YES, but why would you bring your own when they are offering complimentary maple coffee?! 🙂
Restroom: There is a porta-potty behind the building (continue up the hill that you came up to get to the parking area).
Baby Changing Station: NO
Parking: YES. The lot is not huge, but there are several spaces.
Food for Sale: YES, snacks and treats are just a few of the items for sale in the store.
Outside Food Allowed: N/A
Cash Required: NO, but there is a minimum charge to use a credit card. I think it is $12 🙂
Dress Code: Since the entire event is indoors, you don’t need to worry about dressing for the elements.
Age Recommendations: All ages! Obviously, the older your kiddos are the more information they will understand and retain. But everyone loves treats 🙂 This would also be a fun outing for parents with a new baby. A great opportunity to get out of the house and do something fun for yourselves while also feeling comfortable having your baby along for the ride! Low key and stress-free 🙂
Evening/Weekend Hours: YES
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