It's maple time again. Sweet!
It's a special time of year in the Adirondacks. Maple time.
It's only in a small slice of North America, in early spring, that you can experience the sights, scents, and tastes of real maple syrup as it goes from tree to pancake. The specific climate of chilly nights and sunny warm days gets the sap running: both for the sugar maples, and the people. That is one of the appeals of our annual Maple Weekends, which are the second and third weekends of March.
Come smell the intoxicating sugary steam from the boiler vat in the sugarhouse. It scents the air nearby, but the real potent stuff is inside the warm sugarhouse.
Tour a sugarhouse, watch trees get tapped, chat about the science, and enjoy the art. Different grades of maple offer different flavors; come taste for yourselves.
There are also goodies. Tasty treats are a Maple Weekend tradition, from pancakes and waffles to donuts and maple sugar candy.
Lake Placid's many chefs like to come up with new and creative ways to incorporate the subtle flavors of maple into their cooking. The palette of possibilities range from meat and vegetables to unique appetizers and classic Adirondack-style desserts.
For real sugarhouse tours, there are two great places to go in the Lake Placid area. Both of them offer their own artisan maple products, too.
The Uihlein Sugar Maple Station is part of the Cornell University Sugar Maple Program. It is a scientific and educational program, part of the New York State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which is focused on conserving and developing this natural resource.
Native Americans were the first to tap maple trees, and this venerable tradition continues, with a side of new science.
The latest innovation is lacing the forest with pale blue vacuum tubes, which carry the sap right into the sugarhouse. The sealed tubes also keep the sap clean and uncontaminated.
The sugarhouse, just off the scenic Bear Cub Road, is on 200+ acres of forest which serves as an outdoor laboratory. There are studies of maple syrup production, and managing forests in sustainable ways. They cultivate genetically improved, high sap sugar content, maple trees. They also explore the possibilities of birch sap, with its delicate flavor and interesting mix of micronutrients.
Yes, nutrition is one of the appeals of maple syrup. Unlike more processed forms of sweetness, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup contains 1% of the RDA for calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and copper, 6% of your needed zinc, and a whopping 33% of manganese. Still, it's a sweetener — think of it as a natural condiment and a wonderful flavor boost.
Products from the Uihlein Forest’s 6,000 sugar maple taps and 600 birch taps directly support the long-term research and extension efforts of the Cornell Maple Program. They boil, grade, and market items which show off maple's tasty versatility.
Most of the maple syrup production and related research takes place from late February to late April. One of the great things about Maple Weekends is how participating sugarhouses will be open both days, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Black Rooster Maple
Much of the time, Black Rooster Maple is a little store on Route 73 in Keene. This family owned and operated maple sugaring farm transforms itself into a destination for Maple Weekends.
They started with their own six trees, but as Kirk Bassarab admits, "It gets addicting." With wife Kristy and daughter Ryleigh, they have expanded to 1,000 Adirondack sugar maple trees which lets them create plenty of their own maple products.
The name was inspired by their rooster, Black, who was literally being henpicked by his flock of Rhode Island Red hens. He had a clump of white feathers on top of his head which was a natural target. To protect Black's vulnerable noggin, Kirk shaped a piece of black electrical tape to cover the feathers and remove the temptation.
The shape that worked looked like a top hat. But Black always dresses formally, anyway.
Keene is a fine scenic drive, as it is beautifully situated in the lap of the High Peaks, with its dramatic rock faces, scenic rivers, and fine hiking. Browse the cute shops, dining spots, and scenic photo opportunities of this charming town.
Spring is a delightful "wake from hibernation" time with bright days and the opportunity to enjoy brisk air and sunglasses at the same time. Plan a fun getaway with your choice of lodging. Don't miss the maple store at South Meadow Farms Maple Sugarworks and other local maple items in many of our gourmet and gift shops.
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