Thursday, August 22, 2013

New York State Fair 'One Thing' Series -- Today's Feature, Maple

Maple syrup for sale at the 2013 State Fair
Maple syrup is that wonderfully, sweet delight that comes each spring as the temperatures begin to warm and the sap begins to flow.

But Dave Schiek, of Schiek Maple Farm in Penn Yan, Yates County, said there is one thing he wants everyone to know about maple.

"It is a healthier sugar than most sugars and you can use it for much more than just pancakes," he said from the maple booth in the Horticulture Building at the New York State Fair.

Maple is great for use in many recipes as a substitute for other sugars. And it is used to make many other items other than syrup, such as maple sugar, maple cream and maple butter. It also is used to make candy, ice cream, cotton candy, maple-covered nuts and other products that are all on sale at the maple booth at the fair.

This year was a great maple season in New York. According to figures from the National Agricultural Statistics Services, maple producers in the state made 574,000 gallons of syrup in 2013, up from the dismal 360,000 in 2012. Production in 2011 was 564,000 gallons and that was considered a phenomenal year.

Like many other crops, maple is heavily dependent on the weather. In 2012, temperatures warmed too soon, shutting off the sap run and ending the season only a couple of weeks after it had begun. 

The average length of season in 2012 was only 24 days, from Feb. 21 to March 16, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. In 2013, the average length of season was 42 days, from Feb. 27 to April 9. 

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