Maple Weekend 2017: The sweet tradition continues

In Western New York and throughout the state, there are more tappable maple trees than in any other state in the America according to the U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis data. That means hundreds of thousands of gallons of maple syrup will be made this season.

With all those sugar maples, it’s nearly impossible to resist Maple Weekend! The 21st annual event takes place March 18-19 and 25-26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at maple producers across the state. The family-friendly event is free to the public.

New York Maple Producers manufactured 707,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2016, one of the highest production rates ever, an increase of 18 percent from 2015.

“Maple Weekend, is the perfect time for families to learn all about the production of maple syrup and other related products,” says Bridget Smith of Smith’s Maple Farm in Hamburg and WNY Coordinator of Maple Weekend. “You can learn about tree tapping and boiling, see displays, and best of all, taste some of America’s greatest syrup,”

Find a list of participating sugarhouses and maps at www.mapleweeekend.com. A few in the area include Fairbanks Maple in Forestville, Johnson Estate Winery in Westfield, Clear Creek Farms in Mayville, Maple Glen Sugar House in Gowanda, Gabel’s Maple Syrup in Lawtons and Big Tree Maple in Lakewood.

Syrup is produced as the sugar maple holds starches in storage during the winter, which change to sugars as spring approaches. These sugars are released into the tree sap. When a tree is tapped, a clear liquid runs out. When that liquid is boiled down, approximately 44 gallons of the sap produces a gallon of maple syrup.

Techniques vary from producer to producer – some use state-of-the art methods while others are traditionalists. Many maple producers also offer additional activities including horse and wagon rides, snowshoeing, guided walks in the woods and kids’ corners. That’s why it’s great fun visiting several different maple producers. One popular route in WNY stretches from Niagara County down through Cattaraugus County. Visitors can head from Wolf Maple of Middleport to Sweet Dream Maple Farm of Corfu to Merle Maple Farm of Attica to Arcade Center Farm Pancake House to Wright Farms of Farmersville, and top things off with pancakes and more at Sprague’s Maple Farms of Portville.

Across WNY, all-you-can-eat pancake breakfasts will take place over the two weekends. A list of participating sites is available at www.mapleweekend.com.

And consider this — there’s something more to the taste of sweet, delicious maple syrup – it might just keep you healthy. Recent research has uncovered some significant health benefits. University of Rhode Island researchers found 20 compounds in maple syrup that possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes, and bacterial illnesses.

Other established health benefits of pure maple syrup include the calcium and potassium content – a quarter cup of maple syrup has more calcium than the same amount of milk and more potassium than a banana.

This winter, while we were enjoying Mother Nature’s unusually warm temperatures, WNY’s maple producers were hoping for more of a chill.

“Sugar house activities continue no matter what the weather, and this year, 2016, we will produce some very tasty syrup,” notes Smith.

New York is the second-largest maple producing state in the U.S., with 2.51 million taps, producing 707,000 gallons of syrup, and accounting for 17% of the syrup in the U.S. in 2015.

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