Posts Tagged ‘Maple Sugaring’

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Science of Maple Syrup

syrupIn maple country, it seems like everyone has a favorite syrup grade. Mine is U.S. Grade A dark amber. But soon, I’ll have to figure out how my favorite grade of the past jibes with a new system that several Northeastern states plan to adopt in the next few years, and that other states – as well as Canada – are also considering.

It turns out that, at least in New York, Vermont, and Maine, my favorite amber will soon be called either Grade A Amber, Rich Taste or Grade A Dark, Robust Taste, depending on which end of the amber spectrum I prefer. Lighter syrups tend to have more delicate flavors, while darker ones are more intense – a relationship on which the old maple syrup labels, that described color only, relied.

So why doesn’t all syrup taste the same? Sugars in maple sap undergo a series of changes during collection and processing that influence both color and flavor. “The most important determinant of what flavor develops in syrup are the reactions that occur when heat is applied as we process sap into syrup in the evaporator,” explained Abby van den Berg, a researcher at the Proctor Maple Research Center at the University of Vermont. » Continue Reading.



Friday, March 28, 2014

Adirondacks Celebrating Maple Weekend

sugarhouseAdirondack maple producers and businesses are celebrating spring’s sweetest product with special events, tours and tastings during Maple Weekend, March 29-30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day which coincides with Thurman Maple Weekend.

Every March since the mid-1990’s, the New York State Maple Producers Association has presented Maple Weekends, during which maple producers from throughout the state host open houses to showcase how maple products are produced, from tree to table, and provide a chance to taste and purchase products.  This year, the Tri-Lakes / High Peaks region of the Adirondacks will also host a series of special “sweet” events this weekend.  » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Learn About Maple Sugaring at Wild Center This Weekend

Maple BucketThis last weekend of midwinter school break merits a stop at Tupper Lake’s Wild Center. Along with its natural playground, animal encounters and naturalist-led excursions, there is a wide range of organized events to fill the days.

February 22 is all about animal tracking. We have gone on many of these guided trips and are always excited to learn more about the telltale signs of Adirondack animals. Even though my children may have a better grasp than most children their age regarding animal signs, there is always something they learn from a visit to the Wild Center.

On February 23, the Wild Center, in cooperation with the Adirondack Museum, will be demonstrating regional maple sugaring artifacts.  For local residents there is a free pancake breakfast and sugaring workshop that will focus on the Northern NY Maple Project. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, August 1, 2013

Wild Center FlavorFest Focuses On Local Food

7798671182_0f435c4cbfTo taste the salty bite of prosciutto in Italy, the smoky crunch of a German wurst or the hoppy flavor in a beer brewed by Trappist monks you need to pack your bags, fly across the Atlantic and remember your passport. On Thursday, August 15th you can skip the flight and come to The Wild Center for an all-day food festival and pick up a passport that will let you travel freely from one great Adirondack taste to the next.

Your passport will allow you to taste Adirondack delicacies like local cheeses and meat, seasonal vegetables, maple rhubarb crisp and homemade ice cream, and locally brewed beers. The tasting stations, catered by Adirondack Artisan Catering and located throughout the Center’s campus, will focus on the best food and flavors found in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cabin Life: Seeking Comfort When Tragedy Strikes

The SyrupI made my maple syrup yesterday, and it turned out really good.  I know because I drank more than a couple shots of boiling sap and syrup during the process.  I did not mind the taste-testing.

Due to the incredibly windy conditions up here and the fact that there’s a residential burn-ban in effect, I decided to boil down the sap at Amy’s.  I ended up with about five and a half gallons of sap which boiled down nicely to about a pint and a half of syrup.  Not a ton, but enough to enjoy and even share.  Making and tasting the syrup was a much needed break after the events of the past week.  I think most of us needed a distraction or two this week. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cabin Life: The Tardy Spring

Ice on a cherry logSo far, spring has been a big let down.  There were two robins in the yard this morning, hopefully representing a soon-to-be change in the weather.  Between the upper field and lower field, I’d say about two-thirds of the area is still covered in snow.  In the woods, I can post-hole my legs up to the calf when not wearing snowshoes.  Luckily, the freeze and thaw effect has left a fairly heavy crust on top of the snow, making it a little easier to walk around.

The little path that Pico and I have made to the sugar maples is a safe walk, and I have no problem doing it in sneakers.  I might break through three or four times, but the falls through the crust into the four or five inches of snow don’t seem to matter now.  The end is in sight. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cabin Life: A First Syrup Season

First DripI love my dog Pico.  But there are times when he can be extremely annoying.  Like right now, he’s licking my elbow and won’t stop.  I lifted my arm up off the table but he just jumped up on me to keep on licking.  I don’t know why he is doing this or what I could have possibly gotten on my elbow to make him want to lick it so bad.  He’s just a little weird sometimes.

I noticed another oddity out here this week.  I tapped a few maple trees so I could make a little sap this year.  Last year, I was all primed to do the work, but then maple season came and went in a week in February, and I was caught off guard and left with no syrup.

This year is a test run.  I bought some taps and used a few old milk jugs as buckets.  Trying to do it on the quick and cheap, I’m really only expecting a couple servings of syrup.  I don’t have the equipment or the time right now to handle a big production, but now that I know what I’m getting into, I can make a bunch of syrup next spring. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, March 21, 2013

Maple Sugaring: Do New Tapping Strategies Hurt Trees?

sugaringOur sugarhouse is within walking distance of an elementary school, so we’ve given tapping demonstrations to hundreds of school kids over the years. At the part where someone drills a hole in the tree and it sort of bleeds, the next question is invariably: “Does tapping hurt the tree?”

The stock answer is no, as long as you don’t overdo it: use the smaller “health” spouts, follow conservative tapping guidelines, give the tree a year off if it looks stressed. As proof that sugaring is sustainable, we point to some of the trees in our sugarbush that have been tapped for close to a hundred years and are better off for it. Better off because we thin out the trees around them, giving the chosen trees extra light, water, and nutrients.

Their increased vigor, when compared to the maples in unmanaged sections of the forest, is plain to see.  But the sugarmaking being practiced today in many commercial bushes – including our own – is not the same sugarmaking that was practiced even 10 years ago. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Adirondack Family Activities: NYS Maple Weekends

Sap-DripThere are a variety of places that a person can visit to see maple sap collected, especially this weekend (March 23-24) as maple producers join together for the second of two New York State Maple Producers Association Maple Weekends.

According to New York State Maple Producers Association President Dwayne Hill, the organization has grown to 575 members and helps to educate the public about the production of maple products. Hill stresses the importance of increasing the number of maple producers in New York State. He sees the world dependence on maple products rising, which he believes is partially due to maple being a natural sweetener. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, March 7, 2013

Outside Story: Sapstreak Disease in the Sugarbush

diseaseOn a walk through a still, snowy sugarbush, the peacefulness can be overwhelming; everything looks to be in good order. But all may not be as perfect as it seems.

In any sugarbush, there is a good chance that a fungal intruder has gained entry and is wintering unseen beneath the rich, dark bark of an unlucky sugar maple. If this invader is sapstreak disease, then death is likely to soon claim a valuable sap producer. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Adirondack Traditions: Spruce Beer?

Adirondack Bottling WorksA new era of alcoholic beverage production is dawning in the Adirondacks. You can drink locally-brewed beer from any one of several micro-breweries, or imbibe vodka distilled from potatoes grown in Gabriels and filtered through the high-quality quartz crystals known as Herkimer diamonds.   “Drinking local” has a long tradition within the Blue Line. Today, let’s consider the honorable history of Adirondack beer. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Local Maple Producers Sought for Research Project

sugar2The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) 2013 Maple Research Project is in search of maple producers for research on improving sap yields and maple business profitability. The deadline to respond is Friday, February 1.  NNYADP-funded maple research is designed to support the idea that Northern New York can double its maple income to more than $10 million, based on a survey by Cornell University Northern New York Maple Specialist Michael Farrell.

Farrell, director of Cornell’s Uihlein Maple Forest in Lake Placid, says research data from maple tap spout-and-dropline combination trials at the Uihlein forest since 2010, and from similar evaluations conducted at Parker Family Maple Farm in West Chazy, NY, in 2011 and 2012 have shown promising results for improving yields by as much as 100 percent in some cases. A dropline is the length of tubing that runs from a spout on the tap into the tree to the lateral line that collects sap. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New Study On Local Impacts of Climate Change

In the northern hardwood forest, climate change is expected to reduce the viability of the maple syrup industry, encourage the spread of wildlife diseases and invasive species, and impact timber resources and the winter sports economy.

Accurately gauging the pace of change in the Adirondacks has been challenging, owing to the relative dearth of long-term local data. Now, a new study published by 21 scientists that reviews 50 years of data from Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in the White Mountains of New Hampshire concludes that our current models of climate change don’t account well for surprising real world changes taking place in local forests.
» Continue Reading.



Monday, August 27, 2012

Homesteading Fair in Lowville, September 8-9

Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Lewis County in conjunction with Mother Earth News is responding to the increasing numbers of people inquiring about raising backyard poultry, beef, and other livestock, food preservation, energy alternatives for homes and farms, and back-to-the-land management skills with a new educational event. A Homesteading Fair will be presented at the Maple Ridge Center in Lowville, NY, September 8 and 9, 2012.

The two-day event will offer more than 90 educational workshops, held rain or shine, under large tents, in a large, approved, kitchen and former barns, and on the expansive lawn at the Maple Ridge Center. Livestock shearing and wool spinning are among the many planned demonstrations. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, May 12, 2012

Small Scale Woodlot and Sugarbush Workshop

Many maple producers and woodlot owners want or need to be more active in promoting good growth of trees in their woodlot. Learn how to manage your trees for better production and safety.

Cornell University Cooperative Extension in partnership with NYS Maple Producers Association, and the NY Forest Owners Association to host a small-scale woodlot and sugarbush management workshop on May 17, 2012 at the Valley Road Maple Farm in Thurman, NY.

For more information and registration details, contact, Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Warren County at 623-3291.



Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shannon Houlihan: Using All That Maple Syrup

Adirondack Maple SyrupSince I have taken up the business of growing, canning, and preparing all kinds of food from scratch, I have found that life becomes hectic at certain times of the year. Summertime is just mayhem, with berries and summer fruits demanding attention, as well as the garden crops coming in.

In the fall there is pork and venison sausage making, and apples – we spend several weeks brewing hard cider every year. That’s followed by the fermented goods (sauerkraut, kimchi, and the like).

Then the holiday season comes, with its cookies, pies and feasting, followed shortly thereafter by citrus fruits which just scream “I need to be a marmalade!”. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Adirondack Insects: Ants

Prior to the start of black fly season, and continuing for several weeks after the swarms of those tiny, biting demons have faded, there is another insect onslaught that impacts numerous people throughout the Adirondacks. Shortly after the soil has thawed in spring, ants begin to invade the living space of humans, especially kitchens and dining areas where bits of food are readily available.

Since there are so many types and species of ants in the North Country, it is impossible to say what kind of ant is appearing around countertops, near pantry closets, in garbage containers, and under tables where morsels of edibles lie undisturbed on the floor. However, it is easy to state that numerous ants readily welcome themselves indoors, as long as there is something worthwhile for them to collect and transport back to their colony. » Continue Reading.



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.



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The First Adirondack Harvest: Maple Sugaring

This year, the sap flow has arrived a little sooner than usual, and some began tapping in and boiling in January – but most maple producers (at least near where I live in Washington County) are having or have had a decent run. Some have even boasted a banner year for production. Others at higher elevations are reporting production down a third or more.

This past Friday, the ceremonial tapping of the sugar maple took place at Mapleland Farms in Salem, NY. As soon as I left my car, I could smell (and feel) the heavy sweet-smelling steam flowing out of the sugar house as it filled the air. » Continue Reading.



Friday, March 9, 2012

Thurman Maple Days Begin This Weekend

Word from Thurman maple producers is that the sap is flowing, evaporators are boiling and there will be syrup and all kinds of maple confections for those who venture out this weekend (March 10 – 11) for the first of six Thurman Maple Days, which extend over three weekends through this month. Each weekend offers tours of three maple operations – Adirondack Gold Maple, Toad Hill Maple and Valley Road Maple, all offering tours of sugarbushes and sugarhouses, with demonstrations and talks concerning tapping, evaporating, filtering and candy-making. » Continue Reading.



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