Want to make your own maple syrup for those thick Aunt Jemima pancakes? Visit Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining between now and roughly the spring equinox—prime maple-sugaring season.
In case you’ve forgotten your high-school science: trees produce sugar in their leaves during photosynthesis. The sugar is transported into the wood and stored there during winter when it gets dissolved in the sap. At this time of year, when temperatures swing between freezing at night and thawing during the day, the sap begins to flow.
Staff at Teatown Lake Reservation tap into the sweet stuff by drilling holes into roughly 100 sugar maple trees. Then they insert a spout and kick off their Rent-a-Bucket program, the proceeds of which maintain their sugarhouse and support education initiatives. “For forty dollars, we’ll hang a tag in the shape of a maple leaf on a bucket with your family’s name on it,” says Phyllis Bock, Teatown Lake Reservation’s education director. You’ll also get a bottle of award-winning maple syrup and two tickets to Teatown’s Annual Pancake Brunch on March 21.
In the meantime, on Sugaring Sundays (March 1, 8, and 15), you can stop by the park to look inside your pail and pop in to the sugar shack to learn how sap becomes syrup. Before you know it, it will be time for Teatown’s yearly flapjack feast at which you can drizzle fresh maple syrup onto a stack of warm pancakes.