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New York Maple Syrup is a time honored tradition

Late season maple syrup (left) and early season maple (right)
Late season maple syrup (left) and early season maple (right)
Michael Sheetz

Maple season in New York has begun. Every year more than 1,500 farmers in New York tap their maple trees and begin the process of collecting maple sap which is later boiled into the sweet amber syrup that we put on waffles. More than 250,000 gallons of maple syrup are produced in New York state annually making it the second largest maple producer behind Vermont (New York produces about 17 percent of all US maple syrup).

The ideal time to tap maple trees is mid to late February, when daily temperatures reach the 40′s and nightly temperatures fall back below freezing. On its own, maple tree sap has a two percent sugar content. When the boiling process is finished maple syrup will be about 66 percent sugar. Forty gallons of tree sap is needed to produce one gallon of maple syrup.

While some sugarhouses are true to the historic long-boiling sugaring ritual, employing only large cast iron kettles to reduce the sap, today most maple producers use the time saving technique of reverse osmosis, which removes 75-80 percent of the water content in the sap before it is then boiled into syrup. Reverse osmosis also minimizes exposure of the syrup to prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures.

After sap becomes syrup, it can be boiled down even further to make maple sugar, maple candy and maple taffy. More moderate levels of boiling are used to create products like maple cream, which is softer and less granular than maple sugar, and maple butter which has a creamy, slightly thick and spreadable consistency.

Syrup quality is graded according to flavor profile and color.

New York Grades
• A Light Amber – the lightest color, mild and delicate flavor.
• A Medium Amber – slightly darker than A with a fuller flavor.
• A Dark Amber – The darkest of the three grades. Also has the strongest flavor.
• Extra dark (cooking) – darker than the grade A flavors also known as US Grade B.

Storage of Maple Syrup
• Store unopened maple syrup in a cool dark place.
• Once opened, maple syrup should be stored in the refrigerator.
• Maple syrup can be frozen to preserve quality

Maple Syrup Facts
• In most recipes that call for sugar, maple syrup can be substituted for all or part of the sugar. Reduce the liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons for each cup of syrup.
• Tapping maple trees does not damage the trees and only about 10 percent of the sap is collected from the trees each season.
• A sugar maple tree is typically about 30 years in age and about 10 inches in diameter before it is tapped for syrup production.
• Depending on its size, maple trees can be tapped in multiple places. Each tap yields about 10 gallons of sap.

Farms producing maple syrup in the upstate and Capital regions:

Mapleland Farms
David Campbell
647 Bunker Hill Rd.
Salem, NY 12865

Crown Maple, LLC
Nathan Wooden
47 McCourt Road
Dover Plains, NY12522
(845) 877-0640

Maple Hill Farm
Victor Putnam
107 Crapser Road
Cobleskill, NY 12043-5913

Catskill Mountain Sugar House
8 Sugar House Lane
Grahamsville, NY 12740
(845) 985-7815

Maple events

Learn more about maple farms and maple festivals near you
Maple Weekend

Maple shortbread recipe
8 ounces butter
4 ounces maple sugar
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small mixer, mix the ingredients until the dough is pliable and can be rolled to form shapes. Roll small balls between the palms and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently flatten the balls with the palm of the hand. bake in a 300-325 degree oven for 5-7 minutes until the edges just begin to turn brown.

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