Maple Magic, The Enchantment of the Sugar Maple

Maple Sugaring BucketsIn the Hudson Valley, you may have seen familiar metal buckets appearing on maple trees all over the valley! Maple season has arrived! New York State is still the second-largest producer of maple syrup in New England.

Sap from maple trees consists primarily of water, and the water has to be boiled off to concentrate the sugars and minerals to make maple syrup.

The reduction ratio is about 40 gallons of sap which has to be reduced to make one gallon of maple syrup. The color and the flavor of the final product is determined by how fresh the sap was when harvested and the boil rate of the reduction.

Regarding maple syrup grades, there used to be additional grades but about five years ago, the industry modified the system. For more information on the change check out How to Make Sense of the New Maple Syrup Grades.

Grade B or dark or extra dark maple syrup is recommended for cooking. While Grade A syrups have a lighter color and a lighter flavor, any sweet or savory dish will always taste better if the maple syrup being cooked is a darker syrup.

Please check out Maple Season is Coming, Sweeten Up Your Table with New Recipes and Maple Madness or Marvelous Magnificent Maple? for some recipes, and some additional ideas on what you can do with maple syrup to help enhance the variety of dishes you bring to your family table.

As you return to the Hudson Valley or come to visit for the first time, do a little sightseeing and incorporate some “eye spy” games into your travels. See if you can identify some sugar maples, some maple tapping AND check out some local sugarhouses!

Not sure what a sugar maple looks like? Sugar Maple wood is lighter in color than most surrounding trees, and it’s an extremely hard wood.

Sought after by carpenters and crafters alike, not just for its durability but for its gorgeous look when cut. There is a variation called Birds Eye Maple that is very much in demand by woodworkers because of its beautiful patterns already ingrained into the wood itself.

Sugar Maples turn several different vibrant colors in the fall, ranging from bright oranges and yellows to flame red. A grove of Sugar Maples in the fall is a beautiful sight to behold.

How else do we recognize Sugar Maples? As you drive along country back roads, and some not so back roads, throughout the valley, you may see plastic piping or tubing running from tree to tree and ending in large plastic barrels. Old traditions still exist when you see those metal buckets hanging as well collecting sap. As history has progressed, modern ways to tab maple trees have come into existence, making maple tapping more efficient.

Stop by a Local Sugarhouse and get a sweet little reminder of your trip. It may not last long when you return home, but the wonderful flavor of Hudson Valley maple syrup will be retained in memory and make you want to return for more. Please investigate local sugar house rules prior to stopping by. Many have websites and social media platforms that post any requests for visitors, including updated or changed hours and Covid safety requests.

As you visit local sugarhouses, you can see the steam rising to welcome you to come on in. Inside the sugar house, feel the warmth the sap evaporator provides help to warm any chilled bones from your travels. The wonderful aroma of boiling maple syrup slightly permeates your clothes for a sweet smell to travel home with.

Ask your innkeepers for suggestions on local sugaring houses and enjoy the Hudson Valley maple syrup that, as guests, you will enjoy on some of the wonderful breakfasts our innkeepers provide.

For more information on where to find Sugarhouses, please visit

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