U.S. tapping seasons typically peak in March — making it a perfect time for visiting any of the country’s many sugarhouses, where sap collected from maple trees is transformed into utterly sweet (and always unique) maple syrup. For a pure taste of pleasure, try these:
Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup; Shirley, Ill. The Funks’ family-owned syrup-making enterprise dates back to the late 19th century. Today, their sugarhouse and store are a favorite stop among Route 66 buffs. Specialties include jugs of pure maple syrup, chocolate-covered maple truffles and rich maple cream. www.funksmaplesirup.com
Richter’s Maplehouse; Pickens, W.Va. Richter’s employs a tubing system to collect sap for its light and dark maple syrup varieties. Tours, which include access to antique equipment used at former area sugar camps, are often available. www.treewater.com
You don’t need a sugar shack to make maple-flavored syrup. For an easy home version, combine 1 cup of water, 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 1/4 cups of brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce the heat, stir in 1 teaspoon of pure or imitation maple extract, and simmer for approximately three minutes. Pour and enjoy.