It's prime maple syrup season in Vermont right now. At Harlow's Sugar House in Putney, Vermont, that means ice chests full of saved snow (yes, actual snow instead of just crushed ice) are whipped out for the local springtime snack: Sugar on Snow.
In the maple belt of New England the treat is sometimes called "leather aprons" or "leather britches" because of its leathery texture. At some sugar houses, though not Harlow's, Sugar on Snow is served with sour pickles to cut the sweetness, and saltines or plain doughnuts.
How to Make Sugar on Snow
1. Collect snow from winter storm. Store somewhere safe.
2. Make maple syrup. Heat until bubbly and pour over fresh snow.
The warm syrup crystallizes when reacting with the cold ice. What starts as a stretchy taffylike texture gradually becomes rock hard. At this point, the plastic spoons they give you are pretty helpless. The whole experience feels very Little House on the Prairie.
Inside Harlow's Sugar House, you can watch maple syrup being made and buy sugar on snow for a sweet deal of $2.50.
Across the street, buckets attached to trees are collecting sap.
Note: it takes about 40 gallons of maple sap to produce a gallon of syrup, which receives one of four “grades” based on the color and thickness of the syrup. For a list of maple syrup makers and updates on sap taps, visit Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association.