Looks like the long Winter has finally broken and Spring is here. One sure sign that Spring has Sprung is the return of the Maple Weekends. We are fortunate to have the producers of the finest sweetener on the planet right here in our backyard. Of course, I’m talking about the annual ritual of Maple sap collection to create Maple syrup. Checkout the article “March Maple Madness” in my previous blog post here at Saratoga.com and read about some of the characters involved in this right of Spring.
The Town of Thurman started things off last weekend with their Maple Festival. My wife Brenda and I decided to head on up there to see what all the fuss was about. Our first stop was at the Toad Hill Maple Farm. Randy Galusha took us on a tour of the operation, explaining all that goes into creating the coveted sweet syrup. Randy has gone high tech with
his syrup business – No more pails and pans – once the trees are tapped, the collection and reduction of sap into syrup is highly automated. A vacuum system helps draw the sap from trees to a storage tank, which is then transferred to the gleaming stainless steel evaporator. Here the sap is boiled down to the precise consistency for bottling. Once they fire up this baby, it doesn’t stop until the sap run is over. It’s a huge investment of time and machinery for basically three weeks of production. “it’s kind of an obsession” explained Randy. “It probably doesn’t make much sense to put all this into a three week operation, but it’s something we love to do, and we sell every drop we make.”
Next stop was up to the Adirondack Gold operation of Mark and Cheryl Kenyon. In contrast to the Toad Hill high tech operation, Mark is still using his grandfather’s sugar house and evaporator system. Although the sap is collected in a vacuum tube system, Mark still has a few bucket collectors in use for demonstration purposes. It’s like an interactive museum – they host a lot of school field trips and take great pride in keeping the old tradition alive. The sights, sounds and smells of the old sugar house take you back to the old days long gone.
Of course, one can only look at the sight and sounds only so long – what about the taste? Fortunately, the next stop to Valley Road Maple Farm included a pancake and Maple Syrup Feast. Something about eating pancakes and maple syrup at a sugar house can’t be beat. And buying all the great maple products directly from the producers – not just syrup, but candies, peanuts, and my favorite, the maple cotton candy. These folks work real hard to make all this stuff. An it’s as local as it gets.
Buying direct from the producer insures that the tradition will continue to the next generation.
So get out and enjoy this rite of Spring that is unique to our region! Maple Open House Weekend will be March 20-22 and March 28-29 throughout the Upper Hudson Valley. Go to mapleweekend.com for details