Maple syrup starts pouring in 

  • John Keurulainen, owner of Morning Star Maple Sugar House & Gift Shop, checks the syrup, seen below ready for tasting at the different grades. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • Karen Keurulainen, owner of Morning Star Maple Sugar House & Gift Shop in Dublin, checks the density of syrup on Wednesday. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • Four grades of maple syrup is ready for people to sample at Morning Star Maple Sugar House & Gift Shop on Wednesday, February 28, 2018. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 6:1PM

White steam billowed from the roof of Morning Star Maple in Dublin on Wednesday afternoon, the smell of cooked sugar clinging to the air near the shop.

Inside, Karen Keurulainen tended a massive evaporator that boils the slightly sweet, watery substance collected from tapping trees and turns it into a gooey, amber liquid.

Keurulainen said she and her husband John started tapping trees around the first of February this year. She said they used to tap the trees around Valentine’s Day, but pushed the process up a couple of weeks earlier in February a number of years ago as a way to “make sure we don’t miss anything.”

On Wednesday, she said, they’ve boiled about seven times this year. Keurulainen said they’ve been able to produce a “nice little stash” of maple syrup from those boils. She suspects they’ve produced about 600 gallons this year. On average, they make about 1,500 gallons.

Ben Fisk, owner of Ben’s Sugar Shack in Temple, said he started tapping trees around Jan. 7 this year. That’s right around the same time he taps every year, he said.

Fisk said he didn’t start making the syrup until a little later this year. Fisk said he started boiling around January 29 this year. He usually starts closer to January 10. The boiling season was pushed back a little bit because of the cold snap the region experienced this winter. But there’s been a “big warm up” in February, Fisk said, which has sped the process up.

“We’re ahead of schedule now,” Fisk said on Wednesday morning.

So far, he has about 3,000 gallons worth of maple syrup. That’s about half of what he typically makes in a given year, which ranges between 6,000 and 7,000 gallons every year. 

The state produces close to 90,000 gallons of maple syrup every year, according to a website called New Hampshire Maple Experience.

The website says cold nights and warm days trigger sap to flow in maple trees. As frozen sap in the tree thaws, it moves up and builds pressure in the tree. Once the pressure reaches a certain point, it starts flowing from any fresh wound in the tree. Cold night and warm days create the pressure that is needed for a good sap harvest, the site says. 

An article published in EurekAlert!, a global source for science news, says that says some producers are tapping their trees earlier in the year because of winter thaws that allow sap in the trees to start flowing. It says producers are also experiencing an earlier end to the maple tapping season due to warmer springs.

John said the region could use a streak of cold nights to really get the sap flowing in the trees.

If that scenario plays out, he said, this year could shake out to be a good sugaring season.

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.