Upstate New York is known for many things -- apples, horses, quaint small towns and maple syrup. This past weekend I spent a day in one of those quaint towns, Thurman New York learning all about what makes New York maple syrup some of the best in the United States. The tour started at Toad Hill Maple, an 800 acre sugarbush run by The Galusha Family, the largest maple producer in Warren County. The operation is impressive with over 3,700 trees, high efficiency evaporator and reverse osmosis machine. The entire operation is automated, including the gathering of the sap itself.
The blue tubes are taking the sap from the trees in the sugarbush to the pump house.
The sap comes out of the tree as a clear liquid and after the water is boiled out the syrup gets its better known amber color.
Toad Hill Maple Farm has a gift shop where you can buy assorted maple products or you can also online and have real New York maple syrup shipped anywhere.
The second sugar house we went to was Adirondack Gold Maple Farm. This farm is more like an old fashioned operation, which was an amazing operation for children (or a kid at heart like me) to learn first hand how sap turns into maple syrup.
Adirondack Gold Maple Farm is run by Marc and Cheryl Kenyon and produces award winning syrup.
Sugar House at Adirondack Gold Maple Farm
How to tell if a tree is a sugar maple or a silver maple by looking at the leaves.
Drilling a hole in the tree to let the sap flow. The trees need cold nights and warm days to get the sap to flow.
Putting the tap in.
Once the sap is gathered in the buckets and through the tubes it's then boiled down to produce the syrup.
After learning how to make maple syrup it was time for The Thurman Maple Days party, an all you can eat buffet that benefits The American Cancer Society held on the first day of maple days every year. Nothing will tell you more about a town or a culture than sitting down with people of that community and breaking bread with them. The dinner was served buffet style where you fill your plate yourself. All the food was donated by members of the community so that 100% of the money taken in was donated to the American Cancer Society. The long tables were set up so that we could sit among strangers but end up friends by the end of the meal. And the meal was ended with a traditional treat-- jack wax.
Warm maple syrup poured over fresh snow or in our case shaved ice. It's a sticky treat that tricky to eat.
Thurman Maple Days will run for two more weekends in March. I suggest you get an early start and stop at Valley Road Maple arm on 190 Maple Rd for pancakes being served from 9-1, then off to the sugarhouses to learn how all that maple syrup is made. Bring plenty of cash to load up on jugs of syrup plus other goodies made with the stuff. I even picked up a cookbook filled with recipes that use maple syrup.
So celebrate the coming of Spring with the running of the sap, the smell of sugar and the sweetness of New York's finest maple.
To get to Thurman exit off of I-87 at exit 23,turn left on Diamond Point Rd and then follow the signs. Maps can be picked up at the Thurman Town Hall in Athol.