This Saturday, February 20, is the annual Maple Sugaring Day at Benner’s Farm in East Setauket. I attended last year’s festival so I can attest to their promise of “old fashioned family fun.” They’ve got a lot of fun to give. Live chickens, goats, sheep, rabbits (aka bunnies) and lots of friendly folks will welcome you to a bumper crop of farm-y fun.
Because they’ve been holding festivals to celebrate the different products and the history of the farm for almost 30 years, the Benners and their staff have their stories straight. I attended a talk that Bob Benner gave about maple sugaring. I left wondering why more Long Islanders don’t make their own maple syrup at home.
You just need some hollow sticks from the staghorn sumac tree to tap sugar maple trees. Of course you also need sugar maple trees and buckets and huge pans and the time to cook down 40 gallons of sap for every one gallon of syrup. This requires staying up all night in order to keep things at a steady temperature, without scorching. You want to grab the syrup away from the heat source before it reduces all the way to maple sugar—unless, of course, you’re into trying to make maple sugar.
Maple syrup has traditionally been cooked down in a “sugar shack.” Cooking the syrup down inside your home is sure to steam off your wallpaper. Hmm, maybe this is why my husband won’t let me tap our neighbor’s tree—he attended Mr. Benner’s talk too.
At Benner’s Farm you can see maple syrup cooking down firsthand and, significantly, you get to try it on hot pancakes! We “had to” try it several times over.
Next up at Benner’s Farm will be their Baby Barnyard Weekends beginning April 16 and 17. They operate a summer camp for kids too!
Benner’s Farm, 56 Gnarled Hollow Road, East Setauket, 631-689-8172, bennersfarm.com.