Sap to Syrup

You don't need to visit Vermont to witness maple syrup being made. We've got a few locations right here in New Jersey that make the experience well worth your while.

Maple sap drips into a bucket at Howell Living History Farm.
Photo by Jeff Kelly/Courtesy of Howell Living History Farm.

It’s one of those irresistible winter scents: fresh maple syrup on a stack of steaming pancakes. In New Jersey, there are numerous opportunities to witness maple syrup being made, from tree tapping to sap boiling. The sap doesn’t start to run until later in the winter, but the experience is worth the wait.

Howell Living History Farm, a facility of the Mercer County Park Commission, has three dates when visitors can enjoy a free, hands-on syrup-making experience. On February 4, visitors to the farm—which uses traditional agricultural techniques—can help the staff tap maple trees and hang buckets to collect sap. Then on February 25 and March 3, visitors help turn the sap into syrup. The sap, which is about 98 percent water, is boiled down on an open fire with visitors gathered around. “It’s sort of a warming experience,” says Pete Watson, the farm’s director.

Pancakes are part of the experience, too. Visitors get to grind wheat into flour, gather eggs from the hen house, see how cows are milked and take a turn churning butter in order to experience all that goes into making the freshest possible flapjacks. “We’re actually making the syrup ourselves and then sampling the syrup with pancakes we make using our own wheat flour,” says Watson. Though boiling can last several hours, batches of syrup are made thoughout the day. The farm is located at 70 Wooden’s Lane, Lambertville. Call 609-737-3299 for information.
Here are additional Jersey places where you can experience maple sugaring:

Washington Crossing State Park Nature Center
Titusville; 609-737-0609
February 26 and March 3, 10, 11

Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center
247 Southern Boulevard, Chatham; 973-635-6629
Maple Sugar Demo: Weekends from January 22 to March 11, $3
Maple Sugar Fest: March 3; 12-4 PM, $4.

Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center
190 Lord Stirling Road,
Basking Ridge; 908-766-2489
Weekends from February 4 to March 11 Free

Lusscroft Farm
50 Neilson Road,
Wantage; 973-875-4800
Dates: March 17

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