Known as the original sweetener of New World, maple syrup is a New England staple. And at this point, every state thinks theirs is the best. But seriously, CT maple syrup is actually the best.
While you can tap most maple trees for the tasty sap within it, the sugar maple supplies some of the healthiest and most delicious syrup.
These sugar maple trees thrive in Connecticut, making it one of the top destinations in the nation for maple syrup.
Read on to find out how maple syrup is made and where to enjoy it during your next visit to Connecticut.
A Brief History of Maple Syrup
Maple syrup, the world’s first natural sweetener, was cultivated by Native Americans in Connecticut as early as the 1600s. Indigenous peoples in northeastern North America were the first to produce maple syrup and maple sugar. They used maple tree sap as a source of energy and nutrition. The Algonquians even used it in their rituals.
European colonists began harvesting maple products during spring thaw after learning from indigenous groups. They used the method of drilling tapholes in the trunks with augers. The boiling process was time-consuming, and the specific weather conditions determined the length of the sugaring season.
Around the American Civil War, syrup makers started using large, flat sheet metal pans for boiling, and the first evaporator was patented in 1858. And while the industry continues to innovate to use fewer resources and better protect the forests, it’s still a charming and fascinating process.
Today, while other New England states are more closely associated with maple syrup, Connecticut produces plenty on farms here. The maple syrup grading system has also recently changed. In the past, you could only choose a Grade A or Grade B. Now, you can choose by color and taste preference, too!
And the trip to see the production of maple syrup is way less stressful than heading all the way to Vermont, for example.
How Connecticut Maple Syrup is Made
One interesting fact about creating maple syrup is that 40 parts of tap are required for every 1 part of maple syrup. That’s a lot of sap! While we do not produce the most maple syrup (that designation goes to the Canadian province of Quebec), Connecticut maple syrup producers have won many awards for high quality.
Sugaring Season in CT
The best time to tap the sugar maple trees in Connecticut is anytime from mid-February to mid-March, even late March, depending on the year. This is because the daytime temperatures are above freezing and the nighttime temperatures are below freezing. The temperature changes basically create a tug-of-war between the roots and tops of the trees, causing the sap to flow back and forth.
The Best Maple Syrup Farms in Connecticut
The best places to go this time of year is one of the best maple syrup farms in CT. You get to feel quaint, while they get to keep their businesses going (sometimes, after centuries of working). And while the season starts in early February, most demonstrations happen towards the end of the month or early March. So get out there and support local businesses!
Stamford Museum & Nature Center
Watch demonstrations on historic and modern methods of sugaring, as well as fun seasonal offerings like maple syrup treats, at the Sugar House + Cidery. The Stamford Museum & Nature Center typically hosts these demonstrations in late February, early March.
This farm in Redding, Connecticut, hosts events and activities throughout the year. Their CT pumpkin patch especially is worth a visit. That said, Warrup’s Farm also hosts maple syrup-making demonstrations over the first three weekends of March.
Woodbury Sugar Shed
The Woodbury Sugar Shed began as a backyard syrup-making operation in 1982 at the Farm in Woodbury, Connecticut. It has since grown to produce hundreds of gallons of high-quality syrup each year, as well as other agricultural products. Their goal is to make the world a sweeter place.
Located about an hour from the Stanton House Inn, Brooksvale Park in Hamden, Connecticut, conducts a 90-minute class for local students to learn all about the syrup-making process. Every day visitors are also welcome to stop-by the sugar shack when it is in operation!
Wayne’s Sugarhouse, located in North Branford, CT, is also a great place to experience the making of maple syrup. While locally-made syrup is available all year round, seeing it made is one of the best late winter activities in CT. And it’s a great excuse to head here, then explore the charming coastal attractions of Branford, CT. That said, you’ll have to come in the summer months if you want to visit the Thimble Islands.
Maple Grove Farms
Another option is the Maple Grove Farm in Guilford, Connecticut. There, you can learn how maple syrup was processed traditionally with the farm’s wood-fired evaporator. They sell syrup, cream, and maple candy during the tapping season, while syrup is sold all year as supplies permit.
Lamothe’s Sugar House
After a brother discovered seven taps in a drawer, this family originally from Quebec, Canada, began making maple syrup in 1971. They had a large vegetable garden and raised cattle, turkeys, chickens, rabbits, and pigs at the time. They researched the process at the Burlington, Connecticut, town library before boiling sap outside on an old cast iron stove. They moved their outdoor kitchen indoors after two years and renovated an old building to create a sugar house. A watershed moment occurred when a gentleman came to the sugar house and asked to purchase a quart of maple syrup. This was the start of something wonderful, Lamothe’s Sugar House.
River’s Edge Sugar House
With 20 taps and buckets, a maple syrup business launched in 1993 in Ashford, CT. In 1997, River’s Edge Sugar House purchased their first professional evaporator, and built a sugarhouse to process sap indoors. They’ve been growing ever since, including adding bee hives to their operation. At their sugarhouse in Ashford, Connecticut, they now sell Connecticut maple products and honey all year.
Maple Syrup Events in Connecticut
If you really love maple syrup, mark your calendars to rub elbows with other aficionados in mid-March.
Hebron Maple Festival
Thousands of people travel from all over the country each year to enjoy this weekend of maple-related events. Several local sugar houses provide demonstrations, self-guided tours, and a wide range of maple products. The dog sled exhibition, chainsaw carvers, crafts, vendors, and food merchants are also available to all at this top pick among spring festivals in CT! For family fun and an adult sugar high, head to the Hebron Maple Festival (usually the second weekend in March).
More Connecticut farms to explore
While Connecticut has a certain fame for its suburban feel, there are still plenty of Connecticut farms to visit.
And anytime of year provides a great excuse to support them:
- Visit Connecticut tulip farms for a burst of springtime bliss later in the spring, perhaps during spring break in CT?
- And during Fall in CT, be sure to visit the CT pumpkin patches, Connecticut corn mazes, and Connecticut apple orchards throughout the state
For even more ideas, be sure to read our guide to the most unique attractions, activities, and things to do in Connecticut. And download the free Connecticut Travel Guide!