Maine's Kennebec Valley

explore something sweet

There is no better place to celebrate all things maple than in Maine’s Kennebec Valley.

Maine Maple

Sugar Shack at Bacon Farm in Sidney on Maine Maple Sunday.
Sugar Shack at Bacon Farm in Sidney on Maine Maple Sunday.

From Our Trees to Your Plate

A sugar shack (French: cabane à sucre), is also known as a sugar house or sap house.

These are a small building or group of buildings where sap is collected from sugar maple trees boiled into maple syrup. They are often located on the same land as the sugar bush and intended to produce maple syrup by traditional hands-on methods. Historically, sugar shacks are a product of Native American and European ingenuity. The indigenous tribes first practiced maple sugaring, which became a tradition adopted by early settlers to North America throughout the 17th century. The syrup was produced for trade or sale and personal use during the cold months of Winter.

The busiest period for sugar shacks in Maine’s Kennebec Valley region is during the thawing period of early spring. Beginning in late February or early March—depending on the weather—the sugar maples are tapped, and the smell of wood smoke fills the air as the sap boilers spring to life. Lucky for visitors to the area a wide variety of maple products are available for sale at these local producers, grocery stores, and farmers’ markets year-round.

Making the Grade

All Maine maple syrup commercially sold is U.S. Grade A quality, as defined by Maine law. The syrup is further classified by flavor and color characteristics, and the name Maine Maple Syrup can only be used on pure maple syrup produced in Maine.

Grade A: Golden Color with Delicate Flavor

The syrup is generally early season syrup with a fine pronounced sweetness and a delicate maple flavor. This syrup is excellent for pancakes, waffles, French toast, and as an ice cream topping.

Grade A: Amber Color with Rich Flavor

With a slightly stronger flavor and a noticeable darker color, this syrup is by far the most popular choice for all-purpose syrup. This grade has a rich, full-bodied taste that makes it the perfect complement to most foods. This is the syrup of choice for true maple fans.

Grade A: Dark Color with Robust Flavor

Boasting a much darker color and a stronger, more robust maple flavor this variety is less desirable as a table syrup. Preferred for use in baking and cooking, it is great to pour over baked apples or squash or use as a glaze on salmon, meats, and vegetables.

Grade A: Very Dark Color with Strong Flavor

This generally very late season syrup is extensively used in foods and recipes where a strong maple presence is desired. Excellent in cookies, loaves of bread, and the classic New England baked beans.

Various grades of Maple Syrup displayed at Wilson Family Maple Syrup.
Viewing the sap boiling process at Bacon Farm on Maine Maple Sunday

Maine Maple Sunday

March 23 and 24, 2024

Spring kicks off with a celebration of one the sweetest things we know, Maine Maple Syrup. Near the end of February, tens of thousands of trees across the region begin to run with sap. Over the next several weeks, syrup makers gather up and boil down the watery, barely sweet sap into delicious amber liquid.

Excitement fills the air like wood smoke as the last weekend in March, aka Maine Maple Weekend, arrives, and sugar houses across the region open their doors to share their bounty. Truth be told, more real Maple syrup pours out of Maine’s Kennebec Valley—or more specifically Somerset County— than anywhere else in the world.

Maine maple syrup reflects tradition, science, and innovation, all while relying heavily on unpredictable weather. At its core, it is an age-old process, from bucket to evaporator to bottle. But every sugar-maker has stories that describe why their syrup is the best you’ve ever had.

Sugar houses & Producers

∗ Indicates businesses that host Maine Maple Weekend events.

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