This past weekend marked the first of two Maple Weekends in Upstate New York. These are the two weekends when sap is running strongest and sugarhouses all over Oswego, Oneida, Jefferson, and Lewis counties will open their doors to the public.
Don Clonch, and his wife Barbara, run Maple Hill Farm in Hannibal (see a gallery of photos, below) and are expecting a favorable maple syrup season. Maple Hill Farm hosts around 450 taps, and has been in business since 2001. Clonch says he’s “completely addicted” to producing maple syrup.
The apparatus to make maple syrup is called the arch. Sap from the surrounding Maple Hill woods run into the steam away where it’s concentrated and heated to about 170 degrees before running into the flue pan. From here, the syrup moves through the tray. Warmer, thicker syrup is pushed through the tray by “cooler” syrup, all the while becoming more and more concentrated. The tray runs at over 700 degrees. “It’s hot!” laughed Clonch.
Syrup is collected in the syrup pan, and can then be collected. Clonch uses a hydrometer to measure the density of the syrup to make sure it’s at the correct percentage of solid parts to liquid parts. After that, it’s good to be bottled and sold. Maple Hill Farm is looking to produce at least 100 gallons of syrup “if conditions are right.” This year the Clonchs are hoping for an elongated maple season, “the trick is for it not to get warm too fast.”
Also in attendance at the Maple Hill Farm tapping ceremony were Maple Queen Mikayla Fowler, Princess Mackenzie Mattison, and Ambassador Brooke Kingsley. As spokeswomen for New York State Maple some of their duties include marching in parades, participating in the NYS Fair, and going to schools to educate kids about maple. All the girls are well versed in the process of making maple syrup and are eager to share their knowledge with people visiting various sugarhouses during Maple Weekends. “My favorite part is meeting and talking to people,” said Fowler. “Just the stories and how things are passed down from generation to generation, and the new technology.”
The same goes for any maple producer. The Clonch family is only one example of sugarhouse owners excited to share their craft and passion with the rest of the North Country. Be sure to check out one of the many Maple Weekend events near you.
2437 County Route 4, Fulton
Come visit Oswego County’s newest maple producer and see the latest technology for sap collection and syrup making! Join us for pancake breakfasts each day that feature homemade ‘all u can eat’ pancakes and sausage produced locally from Adirondack Beef Co. We are also planning many family friendly activities including: snowshoeing/walking tours of the sugarbush, tours through the maple production process, sled dog demonstrations, coloring contests and more! Free samples of our maple syrup, maple cream, and maple cotton candy will be available along with other refreshments. Refer to www.redschoolhousemaple.com for the schedule of activities.
1309 County Route 85, Hannibal
Welcome to our SugarHouse!!! During your guided tour you will experience the sweet aroma of Pure MapleSyrup, in the making, over our large wood-fired evaporator. You will then have the opportunity to sample the fresh Pure Maple Syrup, and 3 flavors of Maple Cream. Outside we will identify the Hard Maple Tree, which trees are suitable to tap, how to tap, how to measure the sugar content of the sap in the tree & explore the different collection methods used here on the farm. In addition to exploring our Maple Operation, we will offer a meet & greet with the Oswego Co. Maple Queen and Princess, free basket raffles, a sweet story, a chance to meet Emma the Milking Brown Swiss Cow & our newest farm babies as well as several other activities. Come enjoy a truly Sweet all-natural fun-filled experience for the entire family at MAPLE HOLLOW FARM -where everyone leaves a little sweeter!!!! Maple Products & refreshments available for more details call 315-564-7133.
Donald and Barbara Clonch
86 Guernsey Rd, Hannibal
It’s that time of the year when the air around the sugar bush is filled with the sweet smell of pure Maple Syrup. Maple Hill Farm has been in operation since 2001. Come walk the sugar bush, watch the syrup making and bottling process in the sugar house. The sugar house features a Leader oil fired evaporator. (Dress for the weather and bring your mud boots)