You may know that the Sugar Maple is New York State's official tree, yet it still might be a surprise to learn that New York State is the second largest producer of maple syrup in the United States. Tucked away in the northernmost region of the state, the Adirondack Region accounts for nearly one-third of the state's production. So you might say that maple sugaring is big business here in the North Country.
How to Make Maple Syrup
The prime time for harvesting maple syrup begins when daytime temperatures rise above freezing while the nights continue to dip back again. This regular temperature fluctuation creates ideal conditions for sap flow in sugar maple trees, and in the Adirondacks this happens sometime around the end of February.
Taps are placed about four-and-a-half feet up from the ground in a tree that is 12 inches or greater in diameter, while trees larger than 18 inches in diameter can accommodate two taps if placed correctly.
To collect the sap, plastic tubing is rigged from tap to tap, allowing sap to flow directly into a storage tank at a nearby sugar shack for processing. You may have seen this distinctive blue piping running along cross-country ski trails and roadways, or seen the traditional buckets still used by smaller maple producers.
Once stored, the processing of maple syrup begins by feeding it into an evaporator and heated up to remove excess moisture. Like sauce bubbling in a pan on your stove, this removal of moisture concentrates the sugars. Once the maple syrup reaches a 66% to 67% sugar concentration, it is moved to a finishing pan, then cooled, filtered, graded and bottled.
American Maple Museum
Looking to learn more about maple syrup and the maple sugaring process? If you're looking for a side trip when you're in the Adirondacks region, the American Maple Museum in Croghan, NY is a great destination. Founded in 1977, the Museum has preserved New York State's maple legacy with displays of the history of Adirondack maple syrup production, a heritage that dates back to the Native Americans who first discovered the delicious natural treat - by accident, if the legend is true. Distance from South Meadow Farm: (2h 20min) 116 miles.
Reference & Photo: VisitAdirondacks.com