A favorite tradition here in the Hudson Valley and throughout New York State is our Maple Sugar Festivals. Sugar houses open their doors and show the public how maple syrup is collected and made, as well as tasting the assortment of treats made with the sweet stuff. March 19-20 is the official Maple Sugar Weekend in New York State – visit www.nysmaple.com for an event near you, but if you’re a local, I’ve highlighted some of the Hudson Valley events below.
This time of year always brings back fond memories of my grandparents bringing us maple sugar bricks as kids. Maple sugar bricks are not commonly sold at your typical sugar house, but many producers know of it and probably have their own stock. Here’s a little history lesson on this hardened form of maple sugar. Before the Civil war white sugar was expensive and people in the Northeast tended to grow their own sugar in the form of maple sugar. Most syrup produced was not left as syrup but boiled to a much higher temperature and poured into tin molds. A household might make hundreds of these bricks during the spring and store them in a pantry for the rest of the year. When sugar was needed for cooking, one could grate the sugar off the brick. Maple sugar bricks were economical, easy to store, and easy to make.
My grandparents were Canadian and often returned to Canada and the surrounding northeast states to visit family. When they returned, they would visit us after a fresh snow had fallen and unpack this golden nugget of sugar. It had to be right after a fresh snow because that’s what we used to make “maple sugar on snow” or “maple taffy”. I can remember getting all excited as my grandmother unwrapped the little amber brick from its white paper wrapping. She and my grandfather would place it in a pot where the golden bubbles erupted as it boiled down into a thick syrup. Then the magic began. My brother and I had to go outside and fill a pan with fresh clean snow and pat it down nice and hard. Once the pan was filled, we’d return back inside and wait while they drizzled the syrup over the cold, hard snow and in minutes, our sweet maple treat was ready. The drizzled syrup fell into the snow like strips – looking something like bacon when we picked them up. The taste…amazing.
Here’s a basic recipe to make your own Maple Sugar on Snow and this site has another nice story and recipe.
• Pan or baking dish to hold snow
• 100 percent pure organic maple syrup
• Candy thermometer
- Fill your pan with clean snow and pack down.
- Set the pan in the freezer until the syrup is ready, otherwise the snow will melt.
- Pour 1 cup (for four 1/4 cup servings) into your pot.
- Place the pot on to the stove at high heat, stirring the syrup continuously as it heats. This prevents sticking.
- Insert a candy thermometer into the syrup as soon as it reaches a boil. When temperature reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the syrup from the heat and pour it over the snow.
There are a lot of great health benefits to cooking with pure maple syrup, including benefits to your immune system. Check out this article for more details.
New York Maple Sugaring Festivals
Sunday, Mar. 6th
• 1pm-3pm, Kid’s Day in the Sugarbush, Mohonk Preserve, New Paltz
Saturday, Mar. 19th
• 8:30am, Pancake Brunch, Teatown Lake Reservations, Ossining
• 10am-4pm, Sugar Maple Celebration, Sharpe Reservation, Fishkill
• 11am-2pm, Maple Festival, Phillies Bridge, New Paltz
Sunday, Mar. 20th
• 8am-12pm, Maple Fest, Christman’s Windham House, Windham
Maple Weekends: March 19-20 & April 2-3
• 10am-5pm, Maple Weekend, Madava Farms, Dover Plains ***
• 10am-4pm, Maple Sugaring Weekend, Frost Valley YMCA, Claryville
• 10am-4pm, Maple Weekend, Soukup Farms, Dover Plains
• 10am-4pm, Maple Weekend, Corey’s Sugar Shack, Highland
• 10am-4pm, Sugar Oak Farms, Malta
***The hiking at Madava Farms has fantastic views of the Valley. Here are a few shots from a visit we took last Fall.