Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hand Hollow Sugar House Video From Associated Press

This is Larry and Chris from the Hand Hollow Sugar House as they were featured by the Associated Press. They were featured in many of the major newspapers across the US and Canada!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Maple syrup season looks promising
Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Daily Gazette (Schenectady, NY)

ALBANY — Maple syrup season has kicked off in New York, and the 13th annual Maple Weekend is set for March 29 and 30, according to state officials.

Patrick Hooker, the state commissioner of agriculture and markets, said Wednesday recent weather conditions should contribute to a strong maple syrup yield.

“The weather has been perfect for sap to run with frosty nights and warm sunny days, and most producers in the state were able to make their first gallons of syrup last weekend,” Hooker said.
According to state officials, New York has about 1,500 maple syrup producers, 110 of which will open the doors to their sugar houses between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the Annual Maple Weekend.

A list of participating sugar houses is available at

Last year’s maple season ran from approximately March 11 until April 9.

With 1.47 million taps, maple producers were able to make 224,000 gallons of syrup, down 11 percent from 2006 due to extended warm and cold periods, according to state officials.
New York’s maple producers generated $8 million in sales in 2006. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, New York is the third largest state for maple syrup production, behind Vermont and Maine.

Two Bad Seasons, Growing Demand Mean Higher Maple Syrup Prices

Two bad seasons, growing demand mean higher maple syrup prices
Fosters Daily Democrat (NH)
Article Date: Thursday, March 13, 2008

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Gov. John Baldacci has kicked off the maple syrup season by tapping a tree on the Blaine House lawn. But the treat won't come cheap this year.Michael Smith from the Maine Maple Producers Association says two bad syrup-production years coupled with increased demand have depleted Maine and Canadian syrup surpluses totaling 60 million pounds. That means prices will be up. Smith predicts an increase of 20 to 30 percent.Many syrup producers like Smith and Ed Jillson of Jillson's Farm Stand in Sabattus say they have to buy syrup to keep up with demand. Jillson says demand is so steep he "can never make enough."Nearly 7.3 million taps were sunk into trees by American syrup producers last winter, and more than three-quarters of those taps were in New England and New York. U.S. agricultural statistics show Vermont leads Maine in syrup production, followed by No. 3 New York.

———Information from: Sun-Journal,


Sweet smell of spring: It's maple sugar season in New England
By John Curran
Associated Press Writer / March 14, 2008

EAST MONTPELIER, Vt.—At Bragg Farm, seventh-generation maple sugarmaker Doug Bragg does things the old-fashioned way -- with a tractor, family members and 2,200 galvanized steel buckets.
Stomping through 3-foot-deep snow wearing snowshoes, they scatter the buckets, one or two per tree. Then Bragg drills a two-inch hole in each, hammers a cast iron tap into it and hangs a bucket on it.
Inside, a precious commodity will collect a drop at a time. This year, it's likely to be more precious than ever.
High energy prices, rising demand and depleted stockpiles from two years of subpar production are expected to drive up retail prices.
Fuel oil prices hovering around $3.50 a gallon have hurt sugarmakers who use oil to fire their evaporators, where the sap is boiled into syrup. Some sugarmakers use wood.
"There's been a huge increase in fuel costs," said Catherine Stevens, marketing director for Vermont's maple sugar industry. "When you're dealing with materials made of plastic and steel, those prices have gone up. Even glass containers. All of those -- plastic, tin and glass -- have all increased."
The price hikes won't be seen until the sugaring season -- which lasts four to six weeks -- is over, she said.
"No one has actually put numbers on it yet," said Stevens.
In Maine, the No. 2 syrup-producing state behind Vermont, production fell last year to 225,000 gallons, a 25 percent drop from 2006 and the lowest output in six years. Michael Smith, of the Maine Maple Producers Association, says the depletion of syrup stockpiles there and in Canada could mean price increases of up to 30 percent.
In snowy woods all across New England, sugaring season is sweeping slowly north. As the days lengthen and warm up -- but freezing temperatures continue at night -- sugar maples begin yielding their clear liquid. And syrup makers begin boiling down the sap, roughly 40 gallons of it to make a gallon of syrup.
Some use plastic tubing to move sap from tree to sugarhouse. In Bragg's 50-acre sugarbush, they stick to the old way. Call it tradition, call it sentiment, call it stubborn Yankee pragmatism.
"It's all those things," said Bragg, 53. "It's what we grew up doing."


Sap to syrup: Maple weekend is coming up
Enjoy events offered by more than 100 producers in N.Y.
Christine A. Smyczynski • March 16, 2008
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

My eldest son doesn't join our family's Maple Weekend expeditions — at 17, Andy's got other things to do — but he certainly enjoys the syrup we bring home. I'm not talking about the kind of watered-down "pancake syrup" you find on grocery-store shelves, but 100 percent pure maple syrup, made right here in western New York.

March is traditionally maple sugaring season in our region, and Maple Weekend is a chance to see how maple sap becomes syrup and get the good stuff right from the source.

The family-friendly event started 13 years ago when a handful of maple producers in Wyoming County decided to open their doors to the public for one Sunday in early spring to promote their products. It has grown to a two-day event that includes more than 100 maple producers across the state.

With 14 producers on board this year, Wyoming County still has by far the largest number of places participating. Of all the sites my family has visited during past Maple Weekends, our hands-down favorite is Merle Maple Farm on Route 98 in Attica.

The Merle family has been in the maple business for four generations. They now have 16,000 taps, putting them among the top 10 producers in the state.

My most vivid memory of our first visit was the mud. You have to remember that these producers are family-run farms, and farms are pretty muddy this time of year. Be sure to dress for the weather and wear older clothes and boots. You may want to bring an old sheet to put on the car floor and paper towels to wipe off muddy boots.

Based on an informal family survey, here are the top reasons to head out for Maple Weekend:Eating: My son Peter, 15, votes for the free samples of syrup and other products that many of the producers offer. Jennifer, 12, especially enjoys "maple snow," when hot syrup poured over a pan of clean snow creates a chewy maple confection. And maple cotton candy, which we get at Merle's, is also a favorite with Jennifer and our youngest, Joey. He can eat a whole bag in one sitting.

Personally, I'm fond of hot maple mustard, which makes a great pretzel dip.Education: My husband, Jim, likes the tour that Merle Maple offers. "I found it interesting how the process works," he says. "I like seeing how the sap gets from the trees to the sugarhouse and how the sap is boiled to make the syrup."

Methods vary from producer to producer, so you'll find some using more traditional methods while others have state-of-the-art equipment.Entertainment: Apart from the chance to see how maple syrup is made, many of the producers offer add-ons such as wagon rides, guided tours and kids' activities. For Joey, 5, the horse-drawn wagon rides to the sugarbush at Merle's was a top pick: "It was so fun!"

Other events planned at Merle's include demonstrations of tree tapping, a working sawmill (Saturday only) and an air cannon that shoots snowballs.

Christine A. Smyczynski is a freelance writer and author of Western New York, an Explorer's Guide.


It's that time of year when the days are warm and the nights are cold and the sap starts to run. This has been a decent season for sugari' around here. At least that's what our man says.

Dylan and Dawson and I took the time to visit with one of our local sugar makers, Walter Blank, whose been making maple syrup now for some time. He’s located a few miles behind our farm’s vineyard. He makes Grade A Light Amber and our Rustic Dark.

His property is filled with so many lines the surrounding trees are wound up in a cat’s cradle of lines and feeder lines.

Walter has a continuous feeding boiler system. He’s very conscientious, as our grade A Light Amber is boiled at just the right length and temperature, and then twice filtered. It‘s 100% natural, and delicious.

And the stove is wood fired. The combination of boiling, steaming sap, and fresh burnt wood was intoxicating, and exciting.

Walter is a member of the North Eastern New York Sugarmaker’s Association, and his large sugar shack is an old converted horse barn. At one point Walter was a highly acclaimed quarter horse show jumper.

The boys loved the wood burning stove, the endless number of lines, and were most curious of Walter’s pond, stocked with innumerable bass, which he promised the boys they would be able to fish (boy will he be sorry, come summer).