By Colette Linton
SARATOGA SPRINGS—The frigid weather failed to deter many folks from enjoying the sweet smells, sugar house tours and free syrup tastings that kicked off Maple Weekend and a sulking start to the spring season.
Each year there are just two weekends to satisfy a sweet tooth at a sugar house amongst the Maple trees with a plate of flapjacks in hand, and March 29 and 30 are the last two days when sugar houses are open to the public.
Several sugar houses in and neighboring Saratoga County said that while production has been noticeably slower this year because of the low temperatures, attendance for Maple Weekend was higher than it has ever been.
“There’s no shortage yet, and if we don’t make more before summer, then we will be lost,” said Mary Jeanne Packer, New York State Maple Producers Association executive director and marketing manager at Mapleland Farms. “It’s not like the sap isn’t running at all, it’s just running slower. We’re looking forward to another high-packed weekend this weekend.”
Mapleland Farms is about 1,000 gallons behind for the mid-term season, but it’s not until the leaves of the trees start to sprout that brings the syrup harvest season to a “not-so-sweet” close.
“I’ll start worrying once the leaves come out. When the leaves come out, the sap still flows but it becomes bitter,” she said. “We’ll hold out to the ‘bitter end’.”
Harvesting sap from the Maple trees could go well into May because of the snow that is still on the ground, Packer said.
Despite the slower than usual pace of sap flow in the trees, the product produced thus far is worth the work and wait.
“What we’ve made so far is fantastic,” Packer said. “It’s a light color. We’re making all Grade-A to medium now.”
This weekend will conclude Maple Weekend at many area sugar houses. However, some sugar houses have restaurants and stores that are open year round.
For more information on the sugar houses participating in Maple Weekend and the area sugar houses participating, visit mapleweekend.com.
Dry Brook Sugar House
432 Chambers Road
Salem, NY 12865
Dry Brook Sugar House is serving pancake breakfasts from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and host horse-drawn sleigh/wagon rides – weather permitting.
647 Bunkerhill Road
Serving breakfast from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and pen until 4 p.m. There will be tours of the sugar house, pancake breakfast and maple cotton candy.
Nightingale’s Maple Farm
4888 Jersey Hill Road
Amsterdam, NY 12010
At Nightingale’s Maple Farm there will be sap collection demonstrations, syrup taste testing and hot apple and corn fritters. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Rathbun’s Maple Sugar House
1208 Hatch Hill Road
Whitehall, NY 12887
Rathbun’s Maple Sugar House will be serving breakfast from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and hosting horse-drawn wagon rides (weather permitting). Rathbun’s open house will continue until Easter Sunday, but its restaurant is open year round. They’ll be boiling at their sugar house and will have free tastings this weekend.
Sugar Oak Farms
50 Atkins Road
Malta, NY 12020
Participating 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 30, this will be Sugar Oak Farm’s first year in their new sugar house. They will be giving interactive tours of the sugaring operation, and there will be free maple coffee.