Making Maple Syrup with Finding Home Farms
It is officially sugaring season at Finding Home Farms
There are really no words to express how much this business means to us, especially this time of year when we head out to the woods to gather sap and make our organic maple syrup.
If you are new here, welcome. Finding Home Farms is our home away from home - literally. Just a short distance from our home, nestled in the woods, is The Sugarhouse. After years of looking for the right location, this spot came on the market and we began building the "Big Dream" in 2017 and to make our maple syrup.
The Sugarhouse serves a lot of purposes for us. First and foremost, it is where we make our organic maple syrup. But it is also our warehouse, our offices, and as of March of last year, our cafe & market as well. Most of our days in the offices and warehouse are spent serving our retailers across the country who carry our organic maple syrup, pancake mixes, soy candles, and more.
The Maple Syrup Season Begins
But for about 6 weeks each year, when the weather begins to change as we head toward spring, everything changes. The trucks get tuned up and the tanks are loaded into their beds. Our evaporator and equipment get started and our team starts heading to the woods to get ready to make maple syrup.
The first step in making maple syrup is always a lot of repairs of the damage from fallen trees, squirrels, dear, and bears. We will often find our tubing lines with very large teeth marks that can only be blamed on bears who are looking for a sweet treat. While we do always tap a few trees with the nostalgic buckets seen above, we now use tubing lines that extend from tree to tree as pictured below. Each year we remove the tap in each tree and allow it to heal so as to cause no damage, however, the lines running from tree to tree stay in place. For each tree, a new dropline, which runs from the lines to each tree, will get a new spout and a fresh hole is drilled.
After a few weeks, all the trees are tapped and we wait for Mother Nature to work with us. The key to making maple syrup is for the temperature to drop below freezing each night and get above 40 degrees during the day - but not too high! Where we are located in the Hudson Valley of New York, which starts sometime in January to February and ends sometime in late March or early April.
Once the sap starts running, the tubing lines get to work and feed the sap from each tree to the large tubing and eventually into gathering tanks situated throughout the woods. We tap in three different areas. Since we began, we have been leasing trees about 5 miles from here on the property that is a neighbor of Cedar Lakes Estate. We also tap trees in the opposite direction, about 7 miles away, and then, of course, we tap the trees on our property here at The Sugarhouse. In total, we tap about 10,000 trees each year.
Each day, we take multiple trips with our trucks to the gathering tanks, and pump the sap from the tanks into large stainless steel tanks. From there, the sap is pumped into the sugarhouse, run through reverse osmosis (which takes out a percentage of the water to allow for more efficiency and energy savings when boiling), and then pumped over to our evaporator. From there, the process is not much different from how it has been done for generations. The sap is boiled, to remove the water, until it reaches 67% sugar and it is "officially" maple syrup.
The key factor to keep in mind is that so much of what happens is out of our hands and depends on the grace of Mother Nature when making maple syrup. That doesn't mean we can't screw it up, but it does mean we add nothing to it, treat the sap with all the love in our hearts, and follow the processes that go back to the way Dana did things as a child and still follow today.
"The key factor to keep in mind is that so much of what happens is out of our hands and depends on the grace of Mother Nature when making maple syrup."
There is literally nothing like the smell in the sugarhouse when the sap is boiling. There is a magical mix of the warm smell of sap boiling and turning sweeter and sweeter mixed with the distinct smell of the pine boards. Add in a lot of hope, a dash of frustration, and a healthy dose of hard work and you know exactly why our maple bottles are labeled as "100% Pure Happiness".
Visit Us & Learn More About Making Maple Syrup
I would be remiss if I didn't take the time to invite you to come and visit us during sugaring season. We are located at 140 Eatontown Road, Middletown, NY 10940, which is technically in the town of Greenville in Orange County, but the address for GPS and mailing is Middletown. We are open Wednesday through Sunday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Our cafe is open with delicious food and coffee and we welcome you into the sugarhouse to see the making of maple syrup in action.
We hope to see you soon.