Monday, February 18, 2008

Syrup Guru Gets Media Attention in Gettysburg PA

Syrup guru offers taste of his work
Evening Sun Reporter (Gettysburg PA)
02/17/2008 04:07:57 AM EST

There are many stories on how maple syrup came about in America.
One is when a Native American woman was searching for a way to boil dinner.
Another is when a young boy saw a squirrel bite a twig off a maple tree and saw the squirrel lick the tree, the boy thought there was something in the tree.
Although either story is disputable. Eddy Rubin, environmental educator of Strawberry Hill and maple sugaring guru, said maple syrup has been around for centuries.
This winter, conditions are perfect for making the sweet pancake topping, Rubin said.
"When the day temperature is above freezing and the night temperature is below freezing, it's the best time for making maple syrup," he said to a crowd on Saturday afternoon.
Weather like that causes a "pumping action" inside the tree and the sap can come out easier, Rubin said.
Rubin holds a maple-sugaring demonstration from mid-February to mid-March at Strawberry Hill in Fairfield, where he teaches people how to collect and make their own syrup.
This is his sixth year holding the event and he said this was the best year yet because of the weather.
The program begins in a cabin where Rubin tells people about the history of Strawberry Hill and the correct way to collect syrup. The best trees will be about 12 inches in diameter or larger, Rubin said.
After finding a tree, drill a 2 inch deep hole at the south side of the maple tree.
Why the south side?
"Because that's the area where most of the warmth goes in the tree," said Christian Anderson, 9, from Long Island, New York.
His father, Thomas, brought his two kids to the Gettysburg area for Presidents Day weekend and thought the maple sugaring program was a good way to see the area.
Rubin added that the current weather outside has much to do with the process as well.
"Sometimes if there is a warm front coming in at night, I am collecting sap at 2:30 a.m.," he said.
Then a spile, which looks like a spout, is placed in the hole causing the sap to come out quickly, a bucket is placed below the spile.
Rubin then tests the audience's taste buds by playing a game he calls "Guess That Syrup," where people taste seven different types of syrups - 100-percent maple, partial maple and imitation. Rubin has the group put syrup on small pancakes and guess which is which. He had the crowd taste four brand name syrups, two pure maple syrups and one artificial.
"The game is designed so people can taste the difference between pure maple syrup and what is sold in stores," Rubin said.
He then takes the crowd outside to collect syrup.
The tree they go to is picked during the summer and fall, when the trees look healthiest, he said.
Rubin assists the crowd members in collecting sap in a bucket. He then takes the bucket and boils it "for hours."
Then it is maple syrup.
He added it is necessary to collect a lot of sap because for "about every 40 gallons of sap is one gallon of syrup."
John Ramp and his wife, Debbie, brought her son, Adam Clouser, 9, to the event because they like doing family-friendly things together outdoors.
Ramp said he would like to try maple syruping around where he and his family live in Perry County, but another type of tree grows where they live.
"Maybe I can do oak sugaring," he joked.
The maple sugaring event takes place every year at the Strawberry Hill Nature Center, 1537 Mount Hope Road, Fairfield. The cost is free to Strawberry Hill members and $3.75 for non-members.
It is held at 10 a.m. and noon Saturdays, Feb. 16 and 23, March 8 and 15. 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. for planned parties. The program lasts about one and half hours.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

North Andover duo hosts Massachusett's Ceremonial Tree Tapping

North Andover duo hosts state’s ceremonial tree tapping

Drake Lucas
The Eagle Tribune

February 5, 2008

Paul Boulanger’s first attempt at making maple syrup didn’t turn out so well. When he was 12, he steamed the wallpaper right off the kitchen walls while boiling sap.

Boulanger has come a long way since then, though. And he can prove it March 7 when the sugarhouse he owns on Turtle Lane in North Andover with his fiancee, Kathy Gallagher, becomes this year’s location for the ceremonial tree tapping to kick off Maple Month in Massachusetts.

Representatives from the state Department of Agriculture and the governor’s office will attend to read a proclamation and do the ceremonial tapping. And people from local restaurants will serve up maple treats like cupcakes from Butcher Boy, waffles from Eatz and ice cream with maple syrup from Mad Maggie’s.

Melissa Leab, president of the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association, boasting more than 200 members, said the day is a way to promote locally grown maple syrup. “You don’t have to go to Vermont for maple syrup,” Leab said. “We encourage restaurants and residents to look in their own backyard.” The event is also intended to teach people how syrup is made, and Boulanger and Gallagher are all about education.

Massachusetts Farm Fears Maple Shortage

Farm sees maple shortage
By Maureen Sullivan/Staff Writer
Wed Feb 06, 2008, 08:27 AM EST
Dover-Sherborn Press, Needham, Massachusetts

SOUTH NATICK - The Natick Community Organic Farm off Route 16 has been growing of late. Solar panels now gleam from their perch atop the barn, and there are plans to build a bigger farm stand.
Even the sugar shack, symbol of one of the farm’s longest-running programs, has been expanded to accommodate more visitors, especially school groups.

Now all the farm has to worry about is putting something else in the shack.
Namely, sap to boil into maple syrup.
Over the past few years, the supply of local sugar maples available to tap has declined. According to Jed Beach, the farm’s assistant director, there are several reasons for the drop, most of them environmental.
“Some of the trees next to the roads have been deteriorating because of the road salt,” he said. “There’s also climate change … we’ve had weaker, warmer winters, and that produces less sap, and thereby less syrup.”
Beach said the farm is willing to drive to neighboring communities (within a 30-minute drive from the farm) to collect sap, including Dover, Sherborn, Wellesley and Needham.
“We are very actively looking for maples,” he said.
The requirements — a minimum of 15 trees on a site, either on the street or within a neighborhood (along with permission); the trees have to be at least 12 inches in diameter and about 45 years old.
Those having concerns about taps and tree damage need not worry, said Beach.
“Tapping does not damage the trees’ long-term health,” he said.
Sap collection begins around mid-February, when days are above freezing and nights are below freezing, and lasts into March, depending on the weather.
The quest for maple syrup has been a New England staple since colonial times and before, when native Americans taught the craft to settlers.
“We want to preserve the art and craft of maple syruping,” said Beach, adding that the farm receives about 2,000 visitors during sugaring season alone.

Maple Magic, March 8
A part of this season will be the farm’s annual Maple Magic Day on March 8, including a pancake breakfast at nearby Memorial School from 8-11 a.m. In addition to the pancakes (topped off with the farm’s own maple syrup), there will be a folk band, agricultural demonstrations and a farm raffle. Cost is $6 for NCOF members, $8 for nonmembers, $3 for members age 3-6, and $4 for nonmembers age 3-6.

After breakfast, head over to the farm for “Maple Sugaring Past & Present” from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Learn about native American and colonial sugaring techniques, and experience how the farm sugars today. There will be lunch with hot soups, cider and homemade bread fired up in the farm’s adobe wood-fired oven. Cost is $5, $4 with the pancake breakfast.

For information on these and other farm programs (including where the farm can find sugar maples to tap), call 508-655-2204 or visit

2008 New York State Maple Tour July 27-29, 2008

Go to the URL:

Martha Stewart Highlights Vermont Maple Syrup

The Martha Stewart Show has taped a show about Vermont maple syrup and is planning to show it on March 3—check your TV listings for the channel and time.

This week Martha shows folks how to make fabulous French Toast with maple syrup for Valentine's Day.

Vermont Maple Syrup on Television

Vermont Public Television will be airing "VPT Cooks:Maple Time" on March 8 from 2:00-4:00pm., and again March 9 noon to 2:00pm and March 12 from 9:00-11:00 pm. The show will have chefs and sugarmakers cooking some of their favorite maple recipes.

Changing Weather Patterns Concern Maple Syrup Producers

Changing weather patterns concern and challenge maple syrup producers; Eastern Ontario temperatures to rise about two degrees by 2045
Posted By Jenn Watt
Posted February 1, 2008
The Lindsay Post

Maple syrup producers have a lot more to worry about than if the weather cooperates or if the syrup colour stays consistent; global warming and invasive plant species threaten the sugar bushes they harvest from and pose longer-lasting, more challenging dilemmas.

The Haliburton-Kawartha Maple Syrup Producers Association heard presentations from Barb Boysen and Eleanor Reed on both pressing concerns at its annual general meeting in Buckhorn last Friday.
Changing weather patterns due to global warming will increase temperatures in Eastern Ontario by about 2øC by 2045, Boysen told the group.
While that may not seem like big shift, in the maple syrup business, trees aren't good for sap until they are 40 to 50 years old, which makes long-term planning a must.
"As maple syrup producers, you know there is so much that can go wrong in your bush from climate, to different insects, different plants, different weather from year to year.
Climate change: just view it as the newest, biggest, bully on the block," said Boysen, who is a forest genetics specialist based at Peterborough's Forest Gene Conservation Association.
As global temperatures increase, the area suitable for maple syrup production moves further north, she said. So, when producers look at planting saplings in their sugar bushes, they should look to regions with temperatures similar to what Haliburton's will be in 40 years to find seeds.
"If you're doing any kind of planting and you want to introduce a new species to an old, abandoned farm, you would want to make sure that you were getting from your local nursery the right population. You would hope you didn't get seeds from further south or further north because there are populations of different species that are genetically programmed to act differently," Boysen said. She also distributed a report from Environment Canada outlining many challenges to syrup production as Ontario warms up.
"Atmospheric Influences on the Sugar Maple Industry in North America," by Don MacIver et al points out that over the past 50 years maple syrup production has moved from the United States to Canada due to rising temperatures.
"Fifty years ago the United States, primarily New England and New York, used to account for 80 per cent of the international maple syrup production, with 20 per cent in Canada, but today that trend is completely reversed," it reads.
Canada is now the largest producer of maple syrup in the world with "$155 million in production value in 2002."

"Climate parameters that impact maple syrup production include temperature, precipitation (timing, amount and acidity), snow cover and atmospheric carbon dioxide and ozone concentrations," the paper says.
In order for sap to flow - usually beginning in early March in the Kawartha-Haliburton region - the overnight temperature must be below freezing and the daytime temperature must be above freezing. Ideally, -5øC at night and 5øC in the day. The warmer it gets, the lower the quality and quantity of syrup.
"Preliminary data for Ontario shows that in 1960 the first date of maple syrup production, known as boil date, was March 24, but by 2002 this date had advanced to March 7," the paper says.
Further, syrup can be affected by summer droughts and mid-winter thaws. The drier the summer and fall, the poorer the sap. If the leaves drop prematurely, the starch they store is reduced. This starch is what produces the sap in the spring.
"Understanding, conserving and managing sugar bushes is more important than ever," Boysen said.
As if that wasn't enough to worry about, Eleanor Reed warned syrup producers of three invasive plant species that threaten their forests: garlic mustard, common buckthorn and dog-strangling vine.
"We could be more vulnerable because generally our sugar bushes are monocultures. Any time you have a monoculture, if there's an invasion of insect or disease, invasive plant or animal, you could have catastrophe in your forest," Reed said.
The three plants Reed told the group about are dangerous because they are aggressive and take over the floor of the forest, pushing out other plants and including maple seedlings.
There is also good reason to expect that if they're not already in our forests, they soon will be.
"[Dog-strangling vine] is in the Orono forest. If you drive through there when the seed is flying it's like driving through a snowstorm," Reed said.
She also told the group about seeing a forest entirely taken over by common buckthorn, so thick that her children couldn't get through it.
"The good news is your sugar bush could be less vulnerable because you're there inspecting it regularly," she said. Reed advised producers to pull up the invasive species on first sight, unless it has already spread and then herbicide is necessary.
"Our sugar bush is highly valued by us because it's a moneymaker, sure, but we also love our sugar bush. We love it and we want to protect it."
The all-day conference included a speech by Neil Campbell on land trusts (a way to secure historically or ecologically special land from development for hundreds of years), a presentation by the president of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, and a trade show with equipment and maple product displays.

Optimist Maple Syrup Festival Opens March 29

Optimist Maple Syrup festival opens March 29
Orangeville Citzen (Canada)
February 7, 2008

The 2008 Orangeville Optimist Maple Syrup Festival will be held Saturday, March 29 and Sunday March 30 at the Island Lake Conservation Area.
This event is the Optimist Club of Orangeville's "Rite of Spring" - the first taste of warmth for the year and a chance to get outdoors again for many people around Orangeville. For the admission price, those attending receive park admission for the day, a pancake breakfast, a guided tour of the sugar bush with demonstrations on how maple syrup was made in the past an how it is made today and live entertainment.
There'll be fun with the family, fresh air, sunshine (hopefully!) and a plate of hot pancakes and Maple Syrup are highlights. Kids can taste fresh syrup and take a wagon ride. There'll also be live entertainers and lots of things to do. Syrup, other food and snacks will be available for sale.
The club also plans to hold the Optimist Kid's Bike Roadeo on Saturday, May 24, at the Tony Rose arena, 8:30 a.m. to noon. Local schools will get to face off against each other at the annual Roadeo to see what school is the champion. The whole day starts with a bike parade across town from the Town Hall to the arena. To prepare for the day, many local schools hold internal competitions to see who their best riders are.

Results in exercises on traffic safety knowledge, bike condition and riding ability determine each school's final team. Then the teams face off against each other at the Roadeo. At the end of the competition, the school with highest score wins.

There are lots of prizes and snacks for the kids. This exercise helps kids to learn about safety and teamwork. Orangeville Police provide bike inspections to ensure kids' bikes are safe.
The Optimist Million Dollar Hole in One is planned for July 2 - 6, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., at Johnson Controls on CLine, Orangeville.

The Optimist Club of Orangeville is a "Friend of Youth." Most of the club's energy and activities are directed toward mentoring youth and local youth projects. The Million Dollar Hole in One is the club's key annual fundraiser and provides the club with the funds to provide their community services. Golfers can have some fun, practise their favourite sport and help out their community.
The Club uses the proceeds to fund all of its activities through-out the year including big events like Christmas in the Park, Breakfast with Santa, the Kids' Bike Roadeo, Jackrabbits Cross Country Ski School and local youth projects in need. There is also a Youth competition. Grab your clubs and a little cash, get some exercise and help out your community.

Lewis County considers syrup distribution center

Lewis County considers syrup distribution center
Updated: 02/09/2008 11:16 AM
By: Web Staff

News 10 Now

LEWIS COUNTY, N.Y. -- You may not have to travel all the way to northern New York to get some of their tasty maple syrup. It could be headed to a supermarket near you.
A proposal from North Country agricultural officials would establish a packaging and large-scale distribution center for syrup in Lewis County. The processing facility would make New York syrup more competitive with Vermont, New Hampshire, and Canada, where distribution centers already exist. Lewis County is the largest producer of maple syrup in the state.

"This is a chance for New York State to have one location, working with all the New York State maple producers to have one location where you could order large quantities of maple syrup. It wouldn't take away from the retail markets for maple syrup, there is interest in increasing the maple syrup production in New York State and this would be able to take on the additional maple syrup that is produced," said Michele Ledoux with the Lewis County Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The Lewis County Maple Producers Association will discuss the proposal at a meeting Saturday.