March 28, 2010

Maple Weekend

Today we went to some maple farms to see how maple syrup is made. This weekend and last were NYS "Maple Weekend", sponsored by the Maple Growers of NY. The first farm where we stopped was a small family farm that has about 600 trees that they tap. They have a conventional method of boiling the sap.
The evaporator.

Apparently sap is only 2% syrup and it needs to be boiled down excessively to get to the product. It takes 40 gal of sap to make one gal of maple syrup.
This is a stack of two 40 gallon drums. In order to boil the sap down, you need to keep the fire going for a long time. This farm uses wood to keep that fire burning.

It was very warm in the sugar house. All that sugar steam goes out the chimney to the outside. You can spot a sugar house from far away because of the thick white steam coming out of the buildings.

At this particular farm we bought syrup, maple granulated sugar, and maple popcorn.
The samples were delicious! My girl couldn't help herself!
The next farm was a lot bigger and more commercialized. They have 16,000 trees tapped. There are tubes that run all over the woods and bring the sap down the hill to the sugar house.

They have a pumping system that brings the sap down. In the old days, people would tap trees and hang galvanized buckets from the taps (some people probably still do that, but as we drove home, I noticed a lot of these tubes in wooded areas along the road). Then they would dump the buckets into a vat and haul that to the sugar house.

Here is the pump room.
All the white pipes on the floor are the main lines that the tubes out in the woods pour into. You can look into them and see if any sap is coming in. That's my big brother on the left there. He and his daughter are in town from Portland, OR. People were impressed that they came from that far to see how maple syrup is made!

This is the "reverse osmosis" equipment.
This farm is lucky enough to have this equipment which takes some or most of the water out of the sap. They then boil it like the first farm, but they use oil to fuel the fire. A man told us it takes 15 gal of oil an hour to keep their fire burning. Its expensive, but since the farm is so large, using wood would be extremely labor intensive.

We went on a wagon ride. Actually two, because the horses didn't go up into the woods so we hopped on the next ride with the tractor pulling the wagon.

Out in the woods we saw the original sugar house that they stopped using in 1930.

From this farm we purchased syrup, strawberry maple cream (to die for), hot maple pepper jelly, maple tea and maple cotton candy. We also ate lunch, as they had concessions. We ate maple hot dogs and maple barbeque pulled pork sandwiches. They also had enormous baked sweet potatoes that they cut open and put maple sugar and hot maple syrup over. We had a fun day.

Then we went to my Dad's house to have a family get-together so everyone could see my bro and my niece.
The kids and Brian were outside playing spud.

The rest of us stayed inside and ate, visited, and my niece Linnea taught me how to crochet. I need to learn this for a purse I want to make, so I'm excited.
Oh, and one more thing, out in maple farm country are loads of wind turbines. These fascinate me for some reason.

On a trip to Nashville a couple of years ago, we saw one of the blades for these on a flatbed. I never saw a part for something that was so huge.

On this particular day I am thankful for all things maple and for my huge family. It sure was nice to get almost everyone together for a fun evening.
Enjoy your day!


  1. Yes! Finally you can make that purse! Im excited for you!

  2. I am thankful for all things maple as well! These processes look very familiar. We toured a small outfit and a larger one that used the reverse osmosis technology. Both smelled heavenly and both had yummy treats to share. I truly didn't think cotton candy could get any better until I had the maple cotton candy. Why oh why didn't I buy any? :)