Drip, drip, drip… the sweet sound of sap plopping into buckets is the first sign that late winter may soon melt into spring. Each year, Hudson Valley maple farms tap their trees to harvest sap, which will be boiled into precious maple syrup.
“In recent years the season has been unpredictable, usually the beginning of February through the end of March. Weather depending, it may be as early as mid-January and may continue into mid-April,” says Mark Soukup, farm manager at Soukup Farm in Dover Plains. The maple-and-hay farm, established by Soukup’s grandparents, Albert and Olive, began sugaring as a hobby in 1955. Today, it has more than 3,000 taps that produce roughly 75,000 to 100,000 gallons of sap — enough to produce just 1,000 to 1,500 gallons of pure, New York maple syrup.
It’s a big effort with a big payoff. “The Hudson Valley has an abundance of sugar maple trees and near ideal climate for maple production,” says Soukup. “The region produces very delicate and smooth-tasting syrup, almost buttery.” Now, where can we get some pancakes?
From Tree to Table
After trees are tapped (above), producers build fires to boil sap into syrup. (Below) Danny Dymond and Charlie Ryan feed the fire, while waiting for the season’s first run of syrup at the Saphouse at Maple Hill Farms in Prattsville.
Once enough water has evaporated, a Brix reading is done to check the final sugar content. At Tree Juice Maple Syrup 67% is the magic number, which indicates that the syrup is thick enough to cling to pancakes, but not boiled to the point that it crystallizes.
Once sap has officially become syrup, filtered samples are graded based on color (above). Golden is typically the lightest, followed by amber, dark, and very dark.
Find A Farm
Buck Hill Farm
Corey’s Sugar Shack
Cronin’s Maple Farm
East Fishkill; croninsmaplefarm.com
Dover Plains; crownmaple.com
Finding Home Farms
Middle Granville; grottolismaple.com
High Point Mountain Maple Syrup
Maple Glen Farm
Maple Hill Farms
Maple Leaf Sugaring
Niese’s Maple Farm
Putnam Valley; find them on Facebook
Platte Creek Maple Farm
Dover Plains; soukupfarms.com
Sugar Brook Maple Farm
Kerhonkson; find them on Facebook
Tree Juice Maple Syrup
White Oak Farm
Yorktown Heights; whiteoakfarm1.com