Upstate New York has had an unusually cold and LONG winter this year, but it appears spring has arrived at long last! Our Maple season started on March 22nd, a record breaking late start for us. We have found that the old timers are right: "You can't make February syrup in March & April". Meaning: Light and Medium grade syrup must be made early in the season, after that, once the trees thaw out, the sap is darker & more flavorful.
A few maple producers in our area were able to make early season syrup: those tucked in warm valleys with southern exposure. We are situated on the top of a cold, windy hill, which takes a bit more time to warm up in the spring. Hence, we have a goodly supply of Grade A dark Amber, with excellent flavor! Due to the absence of light syrup, we are unable to make maple cream & maple candy; hopefully we can bring them back next season, time will tell!
We are hoping for one last good week of maple season to produce some great quality Grade B syrup, a favorite with many of our customers. Enjoy!
We are ready to make maple syrup; the firewood is gathered, cut, split, and piled in the shed, the maple trees are tapped & the gathering tank is ready. The sap house needs a few finishing touches to have it ready for boiling, but the big hold-up is the weather! In order for the sap to run, daytime temperatures must be above freezing, and nighttime temperatures need to drop to just below freezing. So far, we have had an abundance of just-at-freezing weather. nothing really cold, and nothing very warm. We have had days where the daytime temperature was above freezing, but on those days we had a windchill that kept the sap in the tree roots!
Farmers are optimistic creatures though-we're confident that warm weather is right around the next bend, and that syrup season will still hold to at least a six week window. It's just getting a late start. Bring on the long days of boiling in the steamy sap house,
Wow, what a season! We've had beautiful weather for making maple syrup these past two weeks. The fluctuation in temperature has been perfect for making quality syrup. We are pleased to have our biggest amount ever of Grade A Fancy syrup. We have 30 gallons of super sweet, light, mild syrup which we will be using to make maple candy and maple cream. We have been splurging at least every other morning...buckwheat pancakes and fancy grade syrup, Mmmm. So delicious!
We are also planning to bottle some of this light syrup into pretty glass bottles, be watching for them in the next couple weeks!
Grade A Medium & Dark are also in abundance so far this year. We've made about 55 gallons in just two weeks! This syrup is bottled into pint, quart, 1/2 gallon, and 1 gallon jugs, and is available for pick-up at the farm, on the website or at Pine Grove Pantry in Howard, NY, or Beyond Baskets in Corning.
If your family would like a tour of our maple sugarhouse, please contact us to make sure that we are boiling. Please remember that this is a working farm, so caution must be taken to keep your children with you at all times.
We look forward to seeing you at the sugarhouse!
Kelvin & I have been enjoying our time in the woods tapping trees this week. The ground is bare, which makes tree tapping ever so much easier. Usually, half the battle is trudging through two feet of snow with the drill, hammer, roll of tubing and a stack of buckets. This year, we listened to the sound of leaves crackling underfoot, and our dog Trixie sniff, sniffing while circling a hollow tree, which we discovered was a den tree for two big, sleepy-eyed raccoon.
The best sound of the day though, was the sound of the sap drip, dripping into the pail. With the midday sunshine on the tree tops, the sap flowed from the roots, up the trunk, and into the branches, while a small portion dripped from our spout. Every year, I make it tradition to sample the fresh sap, so I kneel beside the tree, and let a few drops fall on my tongue, savoring the faint sweetness and pugnent maple taste that comes from the maple wood. Ahhh, spring is coming!
We have about 500 taps in so far. We have not collected sap yet, but our buckets are about half full, so we'll collect some today and boil for awhile tonight. The season is beginning!
Hemlock Ridge Farm is located in the hills of Upstate New York’s Finger Lakes Region, where cold winter nights give way to sunny days in early spring, causing the sap in the maple tree roots to flow upward to the branches. This fluctuation occurs several times in late winter, producing a “run” of sap for a few days at a time. The sap ceases to run when the temperature remains warm, and the sap stays in the branches and is utilized as energy for the new leaves.Our syrup is made with great attention to quality; the maple sap is collected from the buckets by hand, and taken to the sugarhouse by our horses, Prince and Red. There the sap is cooked down by our wood-fired evaporator and bottled hot to maintain quality.
Early in the maple season, the sap is typically light in color and flavor, intensifying as the season progresses. The lightest syrup is Grade A Fancy. The slightly darker and more flavorful syrups are Grade A Medium and Grade A Dark. These are commonly used as table stock for pancakes, waffles, ice cream, etc, while Grade A Fancy is reserved for candy-making and display bottles. Grade B is used as a cooking syrup and is highly prized for its robust flavor.
We are looking forward to the 2012 syrup season, wondering how the warm weather we've had this winter will affect the quality and quanity of the syrup. Kelvin has most of the wood cut to fire the evaporator, and is currently working on cleaning and rearranging the sugar house for a sucessful year.