I am not a fan AT ALL of the cold weather and snow, but I am a huge fan of the delicious maple syrup that is a result of it! With the slightly warmer days and colder nights, the maple syrup is flowing and I am thankful that I live in Maine where I can get this tasty syrup straight from the source!
As a child we always enjoyed Maine Maple Sunday, which is the fourth Sunday of every March. All around the state, sugar houses would open their doors and demonstrate how they make maple syrup. And the tour always ended with a sample of some type; my favorite being the warm maple syrup drizzled over vanilla ice cream! Eating ice cream outside in Maine, in March, is never a warm experience, but it’s always a fun and tasty one!
I am so thankful that this tradition of Maine Maple Sunday has continued on. Now that I have my own children, we try to go to these maple events each year. This time we did a few fun maple syrup inspired activities beforehand, just to get into the maple syrup mood!
Yummy maple syrup snow taffy…
The first thing we tried was something that I had recently heard about, but never actually done, despite the abundance of snow and maple syrup here in Maine! It’s called maple syrup snow taffy. You boil maple syrup and then pour it over clean snow and it makes a tasty taffy-like treat. I followed the directions for this maple syrup snow taffy from wholefully, and it turned out perfect!
We decided to make this maple syrup candy on a bitterly cold day during a blizzard, but it worked out fine because I simply set a pan outside to collect the snow, then when we were ready I packed the snow down and left it outside until the syrup was ready to be poured. And if you don’t live in a place with snow (lucky you!), or you are worried about the cleanliness of you snow, you can always do this with shaved ice or even vanilla ice cream! We live in a pretty rural part of Maine and I was collecting fresh snow, so I felt perfectly fine doing this with my kiddos!
Maple Scented Playdough…
My kids love making and using homemade playdough and it’s easy to understand why. It feels so smooth and depending what scent you add, it smells good too! So, in keeping with our maple theme, we decided to make maple scented playdough. Our recipe was based on one from fireflies and mudpies; we just made a few changes. Both of my kids used this playdough and the recipe made more than enough for them both. If I were making this for only one child, I would cut the recipe in half, unless your child really likes playdough!
Maple Scented Playdough
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup salt
- 2 cups water
- 2 TBSP cream of tartar
- 2 TBSP oil (we used canola)
- 2 tsp imitation maple extract
- AmeriColor soft gel food color (or other food coloring) in brown, black, red, yellow, and orange
- Stir together the flour, salt, water, cream of tarter, oil and maple extract in a medium saucepan.
- Stir the ingredients together over low heat, stirring often until they form a soft ball of dough (this took us about 15 minutes or so).
- Turn the playdough onto a covered work surface and knead until smooth (the dough is still quite warm at this point so be careful!).
- Separate the dough into 4 equal balls.
- Add the food coloring to each of the 4 balls of dough so that it’s similar to the different grades of maple syrup (I wore gloves for this part because I didn’t want my hands to be dyed along with the playdough!). Once it’s all mixed together and cooled, you can enjoy your wonderful maple scented playdough!
- To make the colors resemble the different grades of maple syrup, I used: mostly brown with a drop of black for the darkest color; Brown with a little red for the next shade down; brown with orange for the next color; and brown with yellow for the lightest color. No matter how the colors turn out, the playdough will still be fun to use and smell great!
To finish it all off…
We took a trip to a local farm who was participating in Maine Maple Sunday to see how they make the maple syrup. It was super crowded, so we didn’t get to do a couple of the activities that they had, but we still got to learn about syrup, and my kids had a blast playing on the farm equipment and visiting with Hubble, the farm’s cow!
To wrap up our maple syrup fun, we had breakfast for dinner (or “brinner” as we like to call it!), complete with maple sausage and of course, pancakes topped with real maple syrup; delicious! And no maple Sunday would be complete without vanilla ice cream topped with warm maple syrup! It is a great way to end a day that, here in Maine, has become a wonderful tradition to celebrate; one that I am so glad has continued on. I love being able to have traditions like this to share with my kids and hope to spend many more Maine Maple Sundays together! What kinds of traditions do you have with your kids?