Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Learning All About Making Maple

There are a variety of places that a person can visit to see maple sap collected, especially this weekend as maple producers join together for the final days of New York State Maple Producers Association Maple Weekend.

My husband and I have had our experiences (and disagreements) with attempting to make maple syrup. All in all and only with the ability to look back do we both see it as something that was fun. It is hard work but we can say we did it, and have said it with quite some frequency.

Our friends, that actually produce syrup commercially, roll their eyes and remind us that the most we ever produce is a couple of gallons. A couple of gallons of pure gold, I must add.

At Cornell University-Uihlein Sugar Maple Research and Extension Field Station scientists and maple producers continue to perfect ways to increase maple sugar production.

Currently the sap is collected and boiled at the same rate on their 200+ acre forest research station in Lake Placid. In the Sixties, scientists improved sap collection by applying suction to the existing network of tubes that made the bucket collection technique inefficient. (If anyone has ever collected sap by bucket, you do not need research to tell you how inefficient it is.)

Uihlein continues to share its discoveries and research with professional maple producers as well as the general public through training seminars and presentations. A tour through the research facility is one way to learn about maple collecting. Uihlein also offers webinars and workshops throughout the autumn in a range of topics from Maple Production For Beginners to Making Maple Cotton. Don’t worry. You can review the webinars all year long. There are saved versions available if you are interested in attempting to collect and boil your own sap.

Before we started tapping our own trees my family attended a Cornell University-Uihlein Sugar Maple Research and Extension Field Station seminar. Even now that we have been producing syrup for a few years, we still go on tours to see what tricks we can learn to better our own backyard operation.

My children understand how time consuming producing maple can be. It is with great pride that they pour their own syrup on pancakes, making sure not to waste a single drop.

These free Maple Weekends are not all about the work but also for producers to showcase their own facilities. There are pancake breakfasts, free samples, some wagon rides to the sugar bushes and family-friendly activities at various maple producers around the Adirondacks and the rest of New York State. Enjoy!

Photo of Uihlien maple syrup grade samples used with the permission of Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Time

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid and the High Peaks. Her second book, in the four book Adirondack Family Activities series, focuses on the Champlain Valley and will be in available in stores and online summer 2012.


Diane Chase

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.




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