My Childhood Cooking Inspiration

I was just thinking about recipes, maple and Thanksgiving. These three thoughts combined and produced an old memory, although what Thanksgiving had to do with it, I’m really not sure. When we were kids, mama would let us take syrup outside and drizzle it on the snow. We’d then scoop up the frozen liquid and enjoy our sophisticated home cooking. I would even check my Laura Ingalls Wilder Cookbook (I was very pleased with this book as a child) and read that she had her own version of the recipe. If I remember correctly, she’d put the syrup and snow in a bowl and then add milk. We tried her recipe, too, slopping everything together in a mixing bowl.

laura and mary

I thought everyone did this when they were kids. But, lo and behold, when I was stabbing at my taco salad during lunch and sharing my musings aloud, my husband looked at me quietly, as if he found it strange that I’d once nibbled on my front yard. What?! If Laura ate syrupy snow on the frontier, hasn’t everyone?!  Apparently not. And now you know how.

Note: After writing this, I decided to see if there were “official” recipes on the internet. Sure enough! Here is one I found and the blogger even admires Laura, too. Not bold enough to start dumping a jug of maple syrup on your lawn? Now you have a tried and true recipe. (And soon you’ll probably have plenty of snow, too.)

Maple Syrup Taffy Recipe

A Day in the Life of Your Thanksgiving Dinner

Turkey002On a typical afternoon, our turkeys spread out around the pasture, minding their own business.

Until a visitor comes along that is.

Turkey004Visitors might mean grain. And grain is exciting.

Turkey003Our delicious, healthy, happy turkeys are for sale for your Thanksgiving dinner. They cost $6 a pound, and you can pick them up at our farm or at the Union Square Green Market in Manhattan. Call us at (607) 538-1500 if you’re interested.

But wait! There’s more! If you pre-order your turkey before November 19, we’ll give you a discount of $0.50/lb. So don’t wait. This fellow could be the best Thanksgiving dinner you ever had.



Maple Syrup Confessions

Selling maple syrup can be a lot like being a Catholic priest inside of a confessional box. People tell us all kinds of things.

Some people tell us about their maple syrup sins. One customer admitted that he ate his entire tub of maple cream in two days. He just used a spoon and scooped it right out. He seemed pretty pleased with himself. Another lady confided her plan to hoard all of her maple popcorn at a baseball game and keep it from her friends. She was attempting to avoid greasy ball park food. However, just to be clear, as much as we promote maple, we also promote eating hotdogs at ball parks. Oh, and we promote sharing.Christmas Morning Breakfast Box

Some people tell us about their jobs. One weary customer was on her way to work and wanted a treat for “a hard day at the office.” We hope her day improved.

And other people tell us that they’re about to travel internationally. They buy syrup as gifts for their hosts. Our products have added stickiness to Japan, Great Britain and Russia, among other places. For some strange reason no one ever takes any to Canada.

Stop by and tell us about your life.

How to Know When Maple Season is Over

It’s not too hard to tell when to end syrup production for the year: Our sap house starts smelling like cabbage.freshmaple_spring

There are other hints that tell us to stop boiling. Swelling tree buds, while a lovely sight after the snow and cold, mean a less-than-lovely syrup flavor. The syrup tastes “buddy” (yes, that’s the actual term) and takes on a bitter flavor. We don’t bottle these batches.

The sap starts acting different, too. It boils down to a gummy mess, instead of becoming normal syrup. We usually try to avoid boiling late in the season, since dealing with this goop is like trying to clean up an eighth-grade science project gone very, very wrong.

Rising temperatures will eventually halt the flow of sap. They also tell us that it just might be a good time for a breather.

A Happy Maple Customer

We just received an email from a very happy customer, who purchased some of our Grade B Maple Syrup from Union Square Market!

Here’s what she had to say:

Hello from NYC!

Just wanted to thank you guys for a great purchase today at Union Square Market. I am awful with names, but it may have been Joe Andrews? who helped me. I think that is what he said… He was working around the 8:45am time frame. Anyway, he was so happy and friendly and made my morning! I am from a small town in western PA, so coming across a nice person familiar with rural life like me who can hold a good conversation makes me feel at home :)
Also, your Grade B syrup is one of my favorites. Hope you’re having a great week!
Brooklyn, NY
We are truly thankful to Miss. Shannon, who took the time to leave us some positive feedback!

How do you Know When to Tap a Maple Tree

Our dad is a pacer. Board room meetings and conference calls may work in sky-scrapers and corporate settings, but many of the most important decisions for our maple business get made while Papa walks between the dishwasher and the coffee table. You’d think our pine floors would be wearing thin.tappers.2

Perhaps one of the most crucial decisions of the year is determining when to put the taps into the maple trees. This isn’t a decision that can be made willy-nilly and the same date isn’t circled on the calendar every year. If the weather is extremely cold it will take longer for the sap to begin running. Tapping too early in such conditions could mean the holes will dry out and the sap won’t flow. Other more balmy springs, however, require vigilance for the opposite reason; if there is a thaw, which often happens in February, we need to be ready for the sap run. It takes days to have the trees tapped and connected to the tubing. Not being ready means a loss of sap and, ultimately, lost syrup. Besides these two extremes, there is the very real possibility that there will be a thaw, followed by a cold snap that could dry out the holes. This possibility means Papa walks extra laps between the kitchen and living room.

What’s the perfect remedy? Weighing all of the options and praying a lot. It’s worked every time.

There and Back Again: Two Sisters in Manhattan

The alarm clock screeches. It’s 3:00am. For some very strange reason, people often imagine “country life” consisting of late mornings and lattes. Anyone who knows me will agree that I’m all for that kind of gracious morning, but it’s really not farm-life reality. We’re headed to Union Square market today and that means we’ll have to arrive by 7am to beat city traffic and have our tent set up by starting time. Becca grabs the coffee. She offers to drive, but since my sister is even less of a morning person than I am, I insist on taking the wheel. I can’t call it kindness on my part. More like self-preservation.

The valleys are dark and so are the roads. The only light comes from our van’s headlights, forging a path on roads that curve along the mountain contours. Eventually, we merge onto the highway, joining an ever-growing herd of vans and semis ready to feed The City. Flour trucks are ready to dump clouds of white into bakery basements; finger-lake vineyards prepare to offer their wines to upper-end parties. We join the crowd with our maple syrup.

By 6:30am Becca is able to stay awake for 30 second intervals and helps me find the new exit off of the highway. New Yorkers — despite the bad rap they get — kindly slow to let our van take a quick turn. A few more stop lights and we’re at Union Square.

New York is known as the city that never sleeps, yet at this time of the morning it feels like a reluctant child; not quite wanting to wake, but when it does, full of energy. A few other people can be seen nailing away on construction projects, or heading out clutching gym bags, bright running shoes contrasting with the cobblestones. Other farmers set up their wares, displaying heirloom tomatoes, sheep-milk cheese and cool apple cider. It will sell quickly on this muggy day.

We cheerily declare our presence by setting up our maple-leaf emblazoned tent. Cotton candy is strung along ropes and displayed out front. All of it will be gone by evening. We arrange syrup-filled glassware to catch the sun (and to attract pedestrians’ eyes).


It’s almost starting time, which means it’s no longer dark and people can actually see us. We take turns in the van fixing our hair and trying to look like we got more than four hours of sleep. Thankfully, we blend in with the other sleepy people as they catch the subway to work. They grab maple treats to add pizzazz to their day.

Part way through the morning I run off and find a GMO-filled breakfast sandwich, nobly saving the market’s natural products for customers (of course . . . ).


Becca takes a short stroll to find food, too. While she’s gone a school field trip descends on me and with it comes a feeling of slight panic. It’s not that I’m unused to young kids, but it’s a challenge to keep up with customers, explain the sugaring process, and hand out samples of cotton candy to 30 students, all while making sure they don’t triple dip. (Uh, I mean double dip.) Their teacher kindly agrees to come back once Becca returns. And, sure enough, Becca capably saves the day and becomes every child’s hero. We find out later we’re the students’ favorite tent. We’d like to think it’s due to our winning personalities, but it’s probably because everyone loves free spoonfuls of maple cream.


The afternoon is full of explaining the difference between light, medium and dark syrup, between grade A and grade B, and suggesting various uses for our products. The crowd trickles and surges. Farmers trade produce and product. Heels get taller and clothes more formal. We start feeling a little more sleepy.

Tourists also stop by. Although I usually can’t understand what’s being said, I imagine their conversations going something like this: “oh, look, real rural American people out of their natural mountain habitat. Take many, many pictures.” Um, ok friends, time to buy some syrup. I’ve been on the other side of the camera, though, so really, I can’t say anything. When I do understand what’s going on, I’m usually asked the difference between syrup and honey, since maple is a North American curiosity.

ny city

By the evening we gauge the traffic, the weather, and our sales, and decide to start packing up the van. We take things apart somewhat strategically, leaving enough maple products out until the last minute so that stragglers can grab a jug of syrup on their commute home. Becca is an expert tent-folder and car-packer, so it takes little time to have things neatly packed and ready to go.

One of the market-workers helps us back our van into traffic. We turn right at the third stop sign and head for the hills.


Upstate Syrup Meets Manhattan Foodies

We often tell customers that maple syrup has many uses. The creative minds at Black Tree know this, too, and recently began cooking our products into their signature dishes. (They’re definitely not a pancake house.) Their menu features “seasonal, fresh and innovative” and includes locally-sourced products.

The East Pole also started using our maple in their meals. They offer “elevated home cooking” and a whole lot of class. They’re also housed in a brown-stone, which is pretty cool.

We’re grateful our list of restaurant affiliates keeps growing. If you get the chance, be sure to stop in and give these establishments a try; your weekend is planned!

How Much Sap does a Single Tree Produce Each Year?

As any farmer will tell you, there is no sure way to precisely predict how much a plant will yield each year. Part of the adventure (or occasional headache) of farming comes from variables that contribute to a harvest. We plan as much as possible, but snow, rain, sun, and many other natural factors, contribute to how much is produced.spigot

Trees come with their own variables. Size is one consideration, as is the health of a tree. In general, though, we expect between 15 – 20 gallons of sap from each tap. We attach one or two taps to a tree depending on its size. Using vacuum-sealed lines connecting the trees to the holding tanks maximizes the yield.

An optimal sapping season will last for as long as three months, with the thermometer reading in the 40’s during the day and dropping below freezing at night. The longer the season lasts the more sap we can expect from the trees.

Of course, the sap must then be boiled down to produce maple syrup, so 15 – 20 gallons from each tap equals much less volume of the final product.

We always encourage our customers to make a trip to the beautiful Catskill Mountains of upstate New York to check out and even learn about the tapping process!

Nutritional Information

Did you know that maple syrup contains an abundance of naturally occurring minerals? It has been proven that maple syrup contains many minerals, such as calcium, manganese, potassium and magnesium. Also, much like bananas and broccoli, it’s a natural source of antioxidants.

Researches have said that antioxidants can help prevent cancer, lower blood pressure, support the immune system, and even slow the effects of aging! Maple syrup contains many additional nutrients, and has one of the lowest calorie levels of any common sweetener.

Researchers have found that maple syrup contains large amounts of phenolic compounds; these compounds are commonly found in plants, blueberries, tea, red wine and flax seed.

So why not satisfy that sweet tooth of yours with some good old fashioned, naturally tapped maple syrup from Roxbury Mountain?