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!
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.