Foodie trip: New York Maple Weekend

April 6, 2013

Here is a post about a foodie excursion I recently had with my family. We are always on the lookout for events around our bountiful Finger Lakes region. Because this region is famous for producing wine, cheese, maple and great produce, there are always lots of foodie festivals and activities going on. A few weekends back we attended the New York State Maple Weekend. Maple producers from across the state opened the doors of their farms so that everyone can tour, taste and learn about how maple syrup and other maple products are made.

Maple weekend dates can vary but it is usually towards the end of March as in order to produce Maple certain weather conditions need to be in place, days must be considerably warmer than the nights as this helps with the Sap flow. Sap is the liquid that is collected from the trees. Want to learn more about Sap, Maple syrup and how you make it at home? Then take a tour of the Maple weekend through pictures from my adventure below.

A hole is drilled into the Maple tree trunk and a tap is inserted as this will give the sap a place to flow out into a bucket to collect this precious liquid. I had a chance to taste sap and due to its high water content it is not sweet at all that is why needs to be boiled down. On average, it takes about forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.

New York Maple Weekend - Sap from Maple Tree

This is how a Maple farm looks like, lots of trees that have been tapped to collect the sap that will later be transformed into maple syrup and other maple related products. There are other modern ways of making this collection much more efficiently but this is the basic concept that can be even done by you at home if you happen to have a maple tree in your yard.

New York Maple Weekend - Sap from Maple Tree

Because we visited the Genesee Country Village & Museum’s maple farm, we got to journey back in time through their Sugar Camp and experience 19th century style sugaring activities. I love this live museum as costumed interpreters in restored historic buildings and settings, transport you to an authentic 19th Century Country Village.  

New York Maple Weekend at Genesee Country Village Museum

As sap is mostly water,  it needs to be processed by heat in order to evaporate much of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup. As you can see below this can be even done in regular pots at home. Well, actually this was a very old caldron over an open fire but if that was possible in 19th century kitchens, can be done by you too.

New York Maple Weekend at Genesee Country Village Museum

Once you have maple syrup, other sweet and tasty products can be made. Below the syrup was over heated and then stirred in order to make maple sugar candy.

New York Maple Weekend at Genesee Country Village Museum

After stirring some more, the syrup starts to cool down and it thickens into a paste.

New York Maple Weekend at Genesee Country Village Museum

This paste is then poured in molds of your desired shape. Back then they would use this wooden molds, that were greased with lard first.

New York Maple Weekend at Genesee Country Village Museum

Another great treat that requires no stirring is to heat the maple syrup and once is very very hot is the  poured into shaved ice to get Maple ices. A 19th century custom was to accompany the ices with sweet pickles (not really my choice).

New York Maple Weekend at Genesee Country Village Museum

If you can go out, enjoy nature, connect with the beauty of our earth, I encourage you to do just that. It is incredible the energy that the sun gives us. Do not use the excuse that it might be cold out. See, even Little L enjoyed the simple blessing of walking through the woods.

New York Maple Weekend at Genesee Country Village Museum

I hope this inspires you to look around your area for foodie adventures. Also if you have a maple tree you now see how easy can be to tap into the tree veins and collect sap to make sweet maple syrup. If you want more tips on how to do that visit Simple Bites as Aimee and Danny Bourque collected sap from their yard and shared their experience here.

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