The Sweet Taste of Spring

LAKE PLACID Its one of the first signs of spring in the Adirondacks maple sugar producers tapping the trees to reap a sweet harvest of sap. Three local producers are participating in Maple Weekend on March 24 and 25. Sugarhouses will be open rain, snow, or shine from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free and maple products will be available for purchase. Northern NY Maple Specialist Michael Farrell, stationed at the Uihlein Forest-Sugar Maple Research and Extension Field Station in Lake Placid, said over 100 maple producers from all regions open their doors to the public for one weekend during the sugaring season. It started in Western New York about 10 years ago and has grown each year. Events vary among the different locations, but all sugarhouses will be making syrup and offering tours of the production process, from tree to table. Some producers will be doing demonstrations of other maple value added products, such as maple candies, maple cream, maple sugar, and maple cotton candy. You may have an opportunity to go on a guided walk through a sugarbush or take a horse drawn sleigh ride amongst the maple trees. Sugar-on-snow and other maple delights will be plentiful, said Farrell. While many people associate sugaring with Vermont or Canada, New York has vibrant industry. Sugar maple is our state tree and common throughout our forests, and the process of tapping maples to make syrup and sugar is unique to eastern North America. As opposed to imitation syrups, maple syrup is a natural sweetener produced simply by boiling most of the water out of pure tree sap, said Farrell. At Rivermede Farm in Keene Valley, co-owner Robert Hastings looks forward to sugaring season. Its a disease, he explained with a laugh. It gets into your blood, and you have sap on the brain. Sugaring has taken place at the farm since the sixties, with Hastings running the operation for 17 years. It is an important part of his business, bringing in about a quarter of his annual revenue but its intense work, too. To get to the trees, he has to hike out using snowshoes. Tapping a tree at Rivermede Farm is a more modern process, through Hastings uses an electric drill to insert a tap, with a tube-system collecting the sap, which is transported to the sugar house, where it is processed. It takes a lot of sap to make a gallon of sugar. Depending on the sugar content, it usually takes about 40 gallons of sap for gallon. Along with producing maple syrup, maple glazed walnuts, and maple creams, Rivermede Farm has one unique specialty maple cotton candy. This years been interesting for producers, with unusual weather giving producers a late start. For sap to run, trees need nights below the freezing point and warmer days. Local Maple Weekend Participants: Cornell University, Lake Placid Directions: From Lake Placid, take Rt. 73 (Cascade Rd) east for 1.5 miles, turn right at the Horseshow Grounds onto Old Military Road. Continue for .7 miles; turn left at the sign for Uihlein Sugar Maple Field Station onto Bear Cub Road. Proceed for .8 miles to the sugarhouse. For more information, call 523-9337 or email mlf36@cornell.edu. South Meadow Farm Maple Sugarworks, Lake Placid Directions: Located halfway between Lake Placid and Keene, off Route 73. Turn on to Sugarworks Way. We are located at the end. For more information, call 512-9367, e-mail: tcorwin@hughes.com or log onto www.maplesugarworks.com. Rivermede Farm, Keene Valley Directions: Take Route 73. Turn east on Beede Lane and go across Ausable River and take the first left.For more information, call 576-4686 or e-mail rivermede1@aol.com

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