Jonathan Finney of Jackson, N.Y. loves the outdoors in general, but especially for boiling.
Finney is one of a handful of sugarmakers who like to boil exposed to the elements, with no sugarhouse or roof cover.
The Maple News visited Finney and his homemade outdoor set-up on March 25, during a five-day run that kept him boiling every day from dawn to dusk.
“I love being out in the elements,” he said. “Either the sun is shining on you or it’s snowing on you. There’s just something about it.” [ MORE ]
ORFU, N.Y.—Al and Amy Stein with the support of their family operate Sweet Dream Maple Farm on Reynolds Road in Corfu, N.Y. The couple moved to the area in 1989. Amy was the daughter of a doctor and grew up in Clarence, New York. Al’s father was a golf pro and purchased a golf course where Amy worked. The rest is history!
“I grew up in the Adirondack Mountains and my family made maple syrup, everyone made maple syrup if you had the trees,” Al Stein said.
Sweet Dream Maple Farm is the only maple operation commercially producing in Corfu.
“I never dreamed that I would be on a farm. My Dad was a doctor and I got everything I wanted as a child. Then I married this guy who has made me work my butt off but I would not have it any other way,” Amy Stein said. [ MORE ]
HYNDMAN, Penn.—After seven years, the reign comes to an end.
Matt Emerick, 35, of Hyndman, Pa., in Somerset County wrapped up his seventh term as Pa. Maple King in March.
His father, Ed Emerick, held the title four times so their camp, Emerick's Pure Maple Products at 180 Ridge Rd. in Southampton Township, has won a total of 11 times. But, the accolades don't stop there.
Champion syrup through the festival contest came in 1989, 1993, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2016 and 2018.
In Somerset County, Pa., the largest maple syrup producing county in Pennsylvania, a contest for Pa. Maple King has been held during the Pa. Maple Festival in Meyersdale for decades. [ MORE ]
Kirk Bassarab readily admits he’s crazy about maple.
Why else would he give up a well-paying, secure job with benefits to go full-time into sugaring?
Bassarab and his wife, Kristy, own Black Rooster Maple in Keene, N.Y., on busy state Route 73, the main travel corridor for people headed to Lake Placid, the “Olympic Village,” which attracts countless visitors throughout the year.
They are just now putting finishing touches on a brand-new sugarhouse in preparation for the 2018 season. [ MORE ]
At Riverside Maple Farms, there’s no such thing as a spectator.
Man or woman, it’s all hands on deck, from setting taps and stringing tubes to greeting customers at the firm’s gleaming new 5,300-square-foot operation on Route 5, a busy four-lane state highway in Glenville, N.Y., about midway between Schenectady and Amsterdam in the lower Mohawk Valley.
“No one’s safe from any job here,” Erica Welch, said smiling. “We’re all utility infielders. No one does just one thing. Everybody does everything, especially from January to April.” [ MORE ]
It all started when he was a kid, as these kind of things often do. Hale Mattoon, a sugarmaker in the hills of Chelsea, Vt. has since become the pre-eminent spout and maple artifact curator in the industry.
“For me, it’s a thrill,” Mattoon says of his lifelong passion, collecting maple spouts and other artifacts like evaporator fronts, buckets, tapping bits and sap regulators.
But his primary passion is spouts. [ MORE ]
Mark Turco goes to work to make a living. Making maple is his passion.
As a young kid, the Mount Holly, Vermont resident would pedal his bike down the road, and watch with fascination as steam billowed from a neighbor’s sugarhouse and the sweet aroma of boiling sap filled the air. In eighth grade, Turco fashioned his own evaporator out of a 55-gallon drum, which he made in a shop metals class. Right out of high school, he purchased his first real evaporator -- a 4-foot by 14-foot model -- for $3,400 that he earned doing odd jobs and selling syrup.
Turco, 52, is amazed how far he’s come since then. [ MORE ]
Making maple syrup isn’t just a fundraiser for Randy Klawitter, executive director of Wilderness Fellowship Ministries. It’s also a metaphor for life. The Frederic, Wis.-based camp welcomes guests for faith retreats and Klawitter sees plenty of spiritual lessons from syrup making.
“A sugar maker has to know when to take the sap off the fire or it’ll burn,” he said. “If we learn to endure difficult times in life, there’s a sweetness that comes from that.” [ MORE ]
It’s late October and John Williamson of Shaftsbury, Vt. will soon be boiling in the sugarhouse. But not maple—sorghum.
“It wouldn’t feel like fall if we weren’t making sorghum,” he said.
A longtime sugarmaker of the maple syrup variety, Williamson has been making sorghum every autumn for the past 21 years. [ MORE ]
Bob Hausslein took a good idea, started running with it and hasn’t stopped yet. About 15 years ago, while roasting a pig, he stumbled across the idea of making smoked maple syrup, which as fate would have it, turned his entire life and business around.
“Chefs down in the big city were exploring new flavor combinations as part of the then current ‘molecular gastronomy.’ One of them asked me to run with this riff of smoke and sugar we had found, and the category was born,” Hausslein said. “We are originators of Smoked Maple Syrup, and have been producing and selling it since 2005 at least. We don’t have a patent on the process, which is basically to expose the syrup to real wood smoke in some form. I sure have turned a lot of folks on to the idea, though.” [ MORE ]
It’s been a long-time coming for Mike Benton and Benton’s Sugar Shack.
After five generations of sugaring in the Lakes Region town of Thornton, N.H. the Benton family took their first Carlisle Cup last year, awarded for the best maple syrup in the state, at the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association annual meeting. [ MORE ]
Sleep can be a precious commodity for Greg Pittman.
“Sometimes I’ll wake up at two in the morning with the solution to something I need to fix,” Pittman said. He keeps a pad and pen next to the bed.
He’s a tinkerer and has a gift for understanding out how things work just by looking at them. He’s a machine whisperer, so to speak. Same goes for his son and son-in-law, both tinkerers too. Wife Debbie keeps the whole operation humming and organized. [ MORE ]
Have you ever been to a 3-ring circus?
In each ring, something different is going on, and you are not quite sure where to look for fear of missing something special.
The day that I visited Wendel’s Maple & More in East Concord, NY, that is sort of how I felt; like a child at a 3-ring circus. In each corner of the farm there was another facet of the Wendel’s business. My entrepreneurial heart was brimming with questions that I couldn’t wait to ask. [ MORE ]
Just a few years ago, the Hering family of Waterville, Minn. was notable in the industry for being one of the biggest operations in the U.S. still using buckets. The Hering family has been cooking in Waterville since the late 1800s. Everything is different now. Beginning about three years ago, the Herings began a rapid expansion and upgrade to their operation, most notably dumping the buckets for good. [ MORE ]
The sap was running at Charlie Chase’s farm on Feb. 28. And so was Charlie.
A professed people person, he has not been shy to go in any direction within 20 miles of his farm to just about every residence with a maple tree and ask to tap it.
“I go around and knock on doors and offer them half a pint to tap their maples,” he said. “If I get a quart per tap, I come out way ahead.”
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