ATTICA The majestic sugar maple tree is the most abundant of the seven maple species in New York and produces some of the world's best maple syrup. In fact, the United States Forest Service data shows more tappable maple trees are in New York state than in any other state in the nation.
With all those taps producing some of the finest maple syrup, it's nearly impossible to resist Maple Weekend. The annual event takes place March 22-23 and March 29-30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at more than 140 maple producers across the state.
Admission to the family friendly event is free. A list of participating sugarhouses and maps can be found online at www.mapleweekend.com.
Greg Zimpfer, the event's co-founder and chairman, is proud that 2014 marks the 19th annual Maple Weekend. "Each year we have more and more maple producers take part in Maple Weekend, and more and more people attending. It's a great way to learn about tree tapping and boiling and a chance to taste pure New York maple syrup," he says.
As interest increases in "farm-to-table" produce, pure maple syrup is gaining in popularity.
"People like to see where their food is coming from, and you don't get a lot of those opportunities nowadays," Zimpfer notes.
Professional chefs and restaurant owners across the state are using local maple syrup in entrees and desserts. Because maple syrup's flavor reflects the soil (just as wine does), heavy calcium deposits in the state tend to give New York-produced syrup a smoother, gentler finish.
Maple production techniques can vary from producer to producer - some use state-of-the-art methods while others are traditionalists. During Maple Weekend, visitors can head to several different sugarhouses to see various production techniques from evaporation to reverse osmosis.
In addition to tapping and boiling, most producers offer other activities, including horse & wagon rides and walks in the woods. Across the state, many pancake breakfasts take place over the two weekends. A list of participating sites also is available at the Maple Weekend website.
New York's maple syrup production was up by 60 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, which was a warm winter. The state is the second-largest maple producing state in the U.S., with 2.2 million taps and 1,500 maple producers making 574,000 gallons of syrup, and accounted for almost 18 percent of the syrup in the U.S. in 2013.
For more information on Maple Weekend, go to www.mapleweekend.com.