Maple Weekend in March to showcase the labor of 180 of New York’s maple producers
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Thought to have originated with Native Americans who cooked maple tree sap into a thicker liquid, maple syrup products have long been an important part of New York’s agriculture.
Using modern methods, maple farmers boil about 40 or more gallons of sugar maple tree sap to produce one gallon of pure maple syrup.
If you would like to see the process in action and learn more about the state’s maple syrup industry, visit a farm during Maple Weekend 2024, an open house event where maple farms welcome visitors to tour their farm. Held two weekends in March-16-17 and 23-24-the event showcases the labor of 180 of New York’s maple producers, who on average make more than 800,000 gallons of liquid gold annually, according to USDA’s most recent figures.
In addition to syrup, most producers also make value-added goods including maple sugar, maple candy, maple cream, maple cotton candy, and maple-based sauces, dressings and marinades and maple lollipops.
Visitors to host farms during Maple Weekend can watch evaporators in action, sample maple products, purchase a pancake breakfast and enjoy children’s activities, among other things to do.
Farms typically display different grades of maple syrup, so visitors can compare them. Some exhibit sample spiles and tubing—the equipment that makes modern sugaring possible—for visitors to handle. From a safe distance, visitors may also see the reverse osmosis equipment, evaporator, and wood-fired boiler in action at some sugar houses.
Many sugar houses share displays of vintage photos and old-time equipment like galvanized buckets.
“Maple sugaring is steeped in tradition for most producers, and they love sharing their passion and stories with the public,” said Kristina Ferrare, Mobile Maple Experience coordinator for the New York State Maple Producers’ Association in Syracuse. “Families will find the warm and delicious smelling sugarhouses and welcoming enthusiasm of producers irresistible. Visiting neighboring producers on Maple Weekends just might become your family’s next tradition.”
Host farmers enjoy answering questions about the maple sugaring process and showing visitors around their sugarhouse. Many maple farms produce other goods and offer them for sale in their farm market and may include other farms’ goods as well, such as jams, jellies, cheese, baked goods and more.
Because Maple Weekend involves visiting operating farms, expect the possibility of uneven ground, inclement weather and outdoor activities.
Dress for the weather with closed shoes suitable for wet, slippery conditions because sugarhouses are located in the woods.
Maple Weekend will go on, rain or shine. Most sugarhouses cannot comply with accessibility guidelines because of the nature of their business. Not all farms offer pancake breakfasts, but for those that do, ask about any dietary restrictions in advance. Plan to pay with cash, as some more remote sugar houses may not accept credit cards.
To find a sugarhouse near you, visit https://nysmaple.com.