Our History: About Maple Sugaring at Toad Hill Maple Farm

We have been producing pure maple products at Toad Hill Maple Farm for over 30 years. Toad Hill is a family owned and operated maple sugaring operation located in the hamlet of Athol in the Town of Thurman, Warren County, New York. We manage over 760 acres of Adirondack forest land under the guidance of a professional forester who has prepared a written management plan based on the condition of each management area. Over 100 acres is actively managed for maple production with over 4000 taps on a vacuum assisted tubing collection system. Our management involves the selection and removal of defective, diseased and undesirable trees, construction and maintenance of roads and trails, installation of our maple sap tubing collection system, boundary maintenance, etc.

For more history of Toad Hill Maple Farm see “Toad Hill Maple Farm – The Galusha Family’s Sweet Life in Athol” by Persis "Perky" Granger in the March/April 07 issue of Adirondack Life. Also, see the June 2005 Quarterly of the John Thurman Historical Society. Copies available at:
http://www.thurman-ny.com/jths/JTHS_Publications.html

How We Produce

While maple sugaring is a year around business for us our production season usually begins in February and lasts until late March or early April. During this time and the preceding months things can be very hectic and a little stressful around the farm. First there's the rush to finish any remaining projects. Then we have to get our tubing system repairs and maintenance done before we can tap. When it looks like the weather is going to break (warm days and freezing nights) we start washing equipment and head into the sugarbush to begin tapping. Tapping is done by visiting each tree, usually on snow shoes, drilling a hole with a cordless drill and then inserting what is referred to as a spout, tap or spile (depends on who you're talking to). We utilize a small diameter spout that includes a check valve. The small hole limits damage to the tree and the check valve prevents sap from getting drawn back into the tree, which is what causes the taphole to prematurely close up and reduce sap flow. When the tapping is complete we start the vacuum system, walk our lines one more time to find and repair leaks and then cross our fingers for a good season.

sugarhouseIf the weather cooperates and the sap flows, it gets pumped into our storage tanks in the sugarhouse. It then waits until we have collected enough sap to process it. In 2010 we built a new state-of-the-art sugarhouse with energy efficient equipment. The first step in the process is our Reverse Osmosis machine (RO) which can remove up to 90% of the water before we boil it in our evaporator. The concentrate that comes out of the RO contains all of the sugar from the raw sap and is about 10-20% or the original volume. The RO is a tremendous time and energy saver. Once we have accumulated enough concentrate we start the evaporator and boil away most of the remaining water until the sugar concentration and density are at the right level for finished syrup.

evaporator Our evaporator is wood fired with a system of stainless steel pans and an automatic draw off that lets the raw syrup out of the evaporator when it reaches the correct density. Depending on a variety of factors it will turn approximately 1,000 gallons of sap into 25 gallons of syrup each hour. It's not uncommon for us to boil over 5000 gallons of sap and produce over 150 gallons of syrup on a day when the sap runs well. While we are doing all of this we still need to monitor and maintain our tubing collection system to ensure maximum production. To do this we regularly walk all of our tubing and mailines to check for damage from wildlife, falling tree limbs, etc. Repairs are made to keep our vacuum system operating at peak efficiency.

We pride ourselves in our products and take numerous steps to insure that they are of the highest quality. Sanitation is one of the main keys to producing quality products. We regularly spend hours washing tanks and equipment so that our sap is always fresh. All of our sap is sterilized and filtered before boiling. Our syrup is filtered by high pressure filters and stored in stainless steel drums. We hot pack all of our syrup in retail containers to guarantee that the consumer receives a product of the highest possible quality.

Once the season is over we wash all of our tubing, tanks, evaporator, etc. and then start packaging syrup in retail containers and delivering it to our customers. During the summer we work on maintenance and expansion projects. If you would like to see things in operation please feel free to visit us. Please call before visiting to make sure we're not out in the sugarbush.

Visit us during Maple Weekend!

 

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