The North Country is fortunate to have an abundance of maple as our local sweetener, but there are other syrups as well: try birch and black walnut.
One sure sign of spring is the bustling work of our maple producers: repairing lines, checking the taps, tuning up equipment, and, at last, boiling sap. Every year we look forward to this local food treasure: maple syrup and all of its products such as maple sugar, and maple cream.
New York is the world’s third largest producer of maple syrup and the maple industry in Northern New York is expanding. » Continue Reading.
In spite of deep snow and frigid temps through early 2015, most maple producers in northern New York have been ready for sugaring season since early February, but they had to wait for the right weather to trigger sap flow.
Until this past week, sap runs in the region had for the most part been sporadic and brief, and producers at higher elevations where it is a bit colder have seen very little action until now. » Continue Reading.
The sight of maple sap bubbling away in an evaporator pan, the sweet smell in the air and the camaraderie of sugarin’ season are welcomed signs of spring here in the Adirondacks. It also has an interesting history; there is a connection between maple sugar production, slavery in the United States, and socially responsible investing.
Early settlers watched Native Americans slash the bark of mature maple trees during the “sugar month” (even today the full moon in March is called the “Sugaring Moon”). As the trees released their sap from these gashes the clear sweet liquid would be funneled through a series of concave pieces of birch bark stitched together with reeds to the base of each tree where a sealed birch bark basket stored the sap. » Continue Reading.
My family looks forward to this time of year, not only because of the change in season, but because that change brings maple time. Though we have just a few maple trees to tap, larger producers are already starting to make my family’s favorite sugary treat, maple syrup.
What started in the mid 1990s as a simple open house dubbed Maple Sunday has now grown across New York State into two Maple Weekends. The next two weekends, March 21-22 and March 28-29, the New York State Maple Producers Association are opening their properties and sugarhouses for tours, pancake breakfasts, activities and tastings. » Continue Reading.
A new report—The Actual and Potential Economic Impact of Invasive Species on the Adirondack Park: A Preliminary Assessment—explores the economic impacts of invasive species on specific sectors of the Adirondack Park’s economy. This first-of-its-kind assessment for the Adirondacks analyzes actual and potential impacts of eight invasive species, summarizes expenditures across sectors, species and strategies, and recommends strategic investments in prevention and control.
The potential direct economic impact from eight species evaluated in the study is estimated to be $468 to $893 million, with the greatest projected impacts on property value, recreation, and tourism. The species highlighted include five that are known to be present in the Park (Eurasian watermilfoil, Asian clam, spiny waterflea, Japanese knotweed, spotted drosophila) and three that are in close proximity (hydrilla, emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle). » Continue Reading.
In 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.
Adirondack 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.
This 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.
To 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.
I 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.
So 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.
I 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.
Our 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.
There 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.
On 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.
The Adirondack Almanack is a public forum dedicated to promoting and discussing current events, history, arts, nature and outdoor recreation and other topics of interest to the Adirondacks and its communities
We publish commentary and opinion pieces from voluntary contributors, as well as news updates and event notices from area organizations. Contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The information, views and opinions expressed by these various authors are not necessarily those of the Adirondack Almanack or its publisher, the Adirondack Explorer.
General inquiries about the Adirondack Almanack should be directed to editor Melissa Hart.
To advertise on the Adirondack Almanack, or to receive information on rates and design, please click here.