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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hadley Maple Syrup -- Good on EVERYTHING!

The nights are freezing and the days are above freezing (hopefully,mostly), and the sap in the sugar maples runs, and the local sugar shacks get busy. It's maple sugaring season!
In Hadley, the place for all your maple needs is the North Hadley Sugar Shack at Boisvert Farm on Rt 47, where they have syrup galore -- jugs of syrup, bottles of syrup, cans of syrup, syrup recipes, syrup candy, syrup news...
Syrup ...
...and more syrup!
... and people pouring syrup over pancakes and waffles and french toast and sausage -- some even pour the syrup into their coffee, sweetening up that bottomless cup! (Yes. This syrup really is that good.)
The North Hadley Sugar Shack does a very tasty breakfast (from the end of February until mid-April), featuring their very own syrup, and people come from miles around to share in the farm, the community, and that maple sweetness.

Mr. Madley and I had our first sugar shack breakfast last Saturday morning, and I eagerly anticipated piles of syrup-drenched pancakes, bacon, eggs, and home fries -- and a look-see at the syrup-making process.  Upon arriving at the "shack," we put our name on the restaurant list and had a 35-minute wait (go early or go before you're actually hungry-- the place gets quite busy on weekend mornings).  But there was plenty to do before eating, and the time flew by.  We took some time to visit the animals,
Available for petting...
...or for sleeping.
and spent a good deal of time talking with Joe, one of the owning brothers, about the making of syrup (contents of that discussion found below).
After our chat with Joe and our visit to the animals and some looking around at the maple products (donuts, candies, t-shirts, and more), a table finally opened for us and Mr. M and I happily (OK, it's true, I was a little giddy) enjoyed pancakes, eggs, bacon, and homefries -- with fresh 100% local maple syrup.  We were surrounded by families and couples and friends and children all doing the exact same thing -- enjoying happy community and good syrup.
The food was tasty, the service was great -- it was definitely well worth the wait.  I would go back again anytime.

The North Hadley Sugar Shack produces some tasty syrup -- bucketloads of it.  Before the season starts, the Boisvert brothers and their crew put 5000 taps into those lush sugar maples that dot the hills and vales of Hadley.  When the temperatures declare sugaring season has begun, the sap runs through hoses or collects in buckets and is deposited at the sugaring house, where it is reduced and distilled in a wood-fired boiler --
The sugar shack
Sap steam in the boiler
-- the boiler heats the sap and boils the excess water out of it, leaving behind the thick sweet syrup that we know and love.
Joe and John have been sugaring since their teens, and they loved it enough to buy out the family farm in 1995 and turn maple sugaring into a family business; their mom even runs maple sugar candy making classes during the season.
Classic old syrup tins.
Surrounded by the steam off the hot sap.
The Sugar Shack is open late February until mid-April, and the farmstand is open from mid-August through the end of December.  I recommend visiting again in the autumn, when they have pumpkins and mums out in full force.   No matter when you go, don't leave without picking up some syrup to take home -- we have a 1/2 gallon on our counter just waiting to make something perfectly delicious.
Thank you for visiting!

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