Monday, April 18, 2011

Blustery Elmvale Festival Still a Success - Check Out the Video!

Along with the appearance of the spring peepers, the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival usually corresponds with the end of another maple season. This year, the festival wound up on a rather blustery Saturday and still lots of faithful customers came out to celebrate maple with us. Thanks to all of those who braved the wintery weather!

There was a nice piece on the A Channel News on Saturday highlighting the Elmvale Festival. You can find it here. If you fast-forward to the eight-minute mark, it runs for about two minutes. If you watch closely, you'll see our own special thirty seconds of fame from about 9:00min - 9:30min. You're a natural, Jesse!

For those who didn't make it to Elmvale on Saturday, and would still like to stock up on the 2011 crop, we will be open from 9:00am - 5:00pm on Good Friday and also on Easter Sunday. Our sugarhouse will be closed on Saturday, when you will find us returning to the Orillia Farmers' Market for their own special Maple Syrup Festival. After Sunday, we will return to keeping our usual irregular hours so please call ahead -- (705) 835-5780.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

2011 Production Season Is Over

The 2011 Maple Syrup Season will go down in our records as an excellent year! We wound up the last few days with ideal weather and some very good runs of sap. We are happy enough to see the season come to a close as we've got a good stock of excellent #1 Medium Syrup to last us through the year. Saturday night was the last boil of the season, and we have been busy this weekend with the next large task of getting the syrup all bottled up, and beginning the major clean-up operation. There is still much work to be done!

Now that the production season had ended, our business hours will no longer be regular. Please call (705) 835-5780 to check the hours before you plan a visit, as they will change daily.

You will find us this coming Saturday April 16th at the Annual Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival. Looking forward to seeing lots of loyal Maple Syrup fans there, as usual. Check out the link if you haven't been to the festival before -- there are lots of activities for the entire family!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Is Maple Syrup The New Super Food?

Check this out! New studies out of Rhode Island have found that Maple Syrup is high in anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory substances similar to those found in tea, berries, red wine, and flax seeds. Just one more reason to love Maple Syrup!

You can read more about the study here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lots of Sap!

As those of you who have been watching the weather may have guessed, the last two days were amazing sap days! Dad said he was nearly washed away, haha! Wednesday afternoon in particular was some of the best run he's ever seen. He said if you pulled a spile out of the tree, the sap would almost jump out and splash you in the face it was running so much. It was -4°C overnight last night, so we are expecting another great day today.

It's amazing how different the season can be from year to year; on April Fools' last year, it was +24°C! The season was finished and we started our clean-up and take-down of the lines on April 2. It doesn't appear that we'll be having any weather quite that warm for a while yet this year, so we are hoping for a few more sap days before it's all over.

As usual, we will be open this weekend from 1:00pm - 5:00pm. Come out for a visit, and make the most of the beautiful spring sunshine!

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Few Cool Days...

The sap was running on Sunday when I last wrote, and it continued straight through the night, all day Monday, and right through Monday night as well! Since then, the temperatures have dipped back below freezing and as such we've been put on hold temporarily. It's nice to have a chance to catch up with bottling the syrup that we've made so far -- we've got lots of very nice #1 Medium Maple Syrup for sale now, as well as a small quantity of first-run light syrup still available. The forecast for the weekend shows nice bright sunshine, but cool temperatures. If the predicted highs are correct, we do not anticipate that we will be collecting sap this weekend, but it does sound like beautiful weather to be outside. We hope to see lots of visitors again this weekend. If you are planning on coming by, bundle up! With temperatures on the cold side, it gets chilly in the Sugar House.

Speaking of which, we were sent some more great photos from happy visitors:

Checking out the sap in the tank.

Listening closely while Ken explains how syrup is made

Cute kids!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Busy Weekend: The End of the March Break
& Spring Officially Arrives

Well, it's official! As of 7:21pm this evening, the vernal equinox has arrived! The equinox marks the balancing point of the sun on the Equator, meaning that our days are now close to a well-balanced twelve hours of daylight vs. darkness. Given that this special day rides on the coattails of the lunar perigee last night, it certainly seems likely that some kind of special spring magic is in the air...

We had a wonderful busy weekend with lots of visitors out to the farm. A special thanks to the Dilworth family, Michael, Stephanie, Aidan, Lauren, and Jack for sharing these great photos with us!

The weather remains unsettled currently, and is keeping us on our toes. The report overnight tonight is right on the verge with a predicted low of one degree. It sounds like the weatherman is just as baffled as we are, calling for a possible 10cm of wet snow or some freezing rain or maybe just plain wet rain! We boiled a batch of syrup off this afternoon and the sap has continued to run. It looks like Dad will have to boil again around midnight tonight and then get up once or twice through the night to check the tanks. He tells me he had a good sleep last night so he should have no problem staying awake tonight. At this rate, it won't be long before those sugarmaker dark circles start to make an appearance... But, we won't bite the hand that feeds us, we're always happy to see the sap!

How Maple Butter Is Made

To make our delicious McCutcheon's Maple Butter, we begin by boiling our Maple Syrup down even thicker so that it is reduced by an additional 50%. This thick toffee-like syrup is then chilled in a pan over ice water for a number of hours. We must be very careful when transferring and lifing the pan as any sudden bumps or knocks can cause unwanted crystal to form.

Then, the chilled and concentrated syrup is churned constantly and slowly for at least an hour until very fine crystals form and it reaches the desired buttery consistency. Timing and temperature are crucial.

Maple Butter is made entirely from the sap of Sugar Maple trees and must be kept refrigerated, even before opening, to maintain it's lovely, creamy consistency.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Unsettled Spring Weather Brings On The Sap

We had an unexpected spring storm last night, with thunder and lightening in the early evening and then very high wind and rain through the middle of the night. The temperature stayed mild, and as a result, Dad was up into the wee hours of the morning making sure that the sap tank did not overflow. He said that it ran very well from midnight until 4am, and he boiled down the sap that he collected overnight first thing this morning. We will have to get out into the woods soon to check for branches that may have come down during the storm, and to make sure that all of the lines remain in good repair.

The sap has been running steadily over the past four days and we have made about a quarter of an average crop so far. Yesterday was the best day of the season to date as we made close to 100 gallons of syrup (that's 4000 gallons of sap collected!). We would consider that to be a good production day on average, however, we have definitely had larger runs, sometimes collecting 7000-8000 gallons of sap in one day! We have had some big temperature swings this week, but we're still waiting for the "perfect" sap day. -5°C to +5°C with crisp sunshine would be ideal.

If you are in the mood to do some more maple reading, check out this blog by Bruce Sherman. You'll find some great pictures that he took at our farm yesterday, as well as some thoughtful blog commentary from a true maple enthusiast. If you look closely, you'll also find a great painting that Bruce did of our farmhouse. Enjoy!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Open For Visitors!

Tomorrow, Tuesday March 15th, will mark our official opening for the 2011 Maple Syrup season! We collected a small amount of sap on the weekend, and have boiled down and bottled our very first batch. We will now be open daily from 1:00pm - 5:00pm until the end of the season. Please come by for a visit. Tomorrow sounds like a beautiful day to go for a walk in the sugarbush, have some sugar-on-snow, and purchase your own bottle of extra-special first run syrup. Happy March Break, everyone. Hope to see you soon!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Warmer Days Ahead

The weather forecast has been gradually improving, and the sap is just starting to run. As soon as we have fresh Maple Syrup for sale we will be open in the afternoons from 1:00pm - 5:00pm. As long as the predicted weather pattern holds, we anticipate opening for the season by the middle of this week. Please check back soon to confirm our opening date. You can also call (705) 835-5780 to hear our recorded greeting which is updated daily.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Late Start

We were foiled by Mother Nature again this week, and the warmer days that we had hoped for did not turn up. We have yet to make any fresh syrup this season, but we're well-prepared and optimistic as we continue to wait for spring to arrive. This is a later start to the season than it has been for the past few years, but according to our records we have had seasons that began as late as March 23rd! The farm will remain closed until the sap begins to flow, so please check back near the end of the week for another update.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Up and Down

After a mad scramble to get ready, the weather changed quite drastically and we had a steady week of cold weather. We had thought we might get some sap this Friday and Saturday with the predicted rain and mild weather, but in the end it did not get warm enough to run. This morning it looks like we're back to winter with four inches of fresh snow!

Looking at the forecast yesterday, it appeared that it was going to stay cold this week also -- a bit nerve-racking to face losing a week of potential syrup-making in March. Today however, the report has changed entirely, and it now shows beautiful sap weather all week beginning on Tuesday. If the weather reporters only knew how much they toyed with our emotions, haha!

The roller coaster ride continues...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Getting Ready

The McCutcheon clan has been out in the woods stretching lines and tapping trees and we are feeling well prepared for the imminent season. The weather report has been in constant flux (as usual at this time of year) and the predictions seem to change almost hourly. Currently, the forecast is showing some potential sap days in the coming week, but as any experienced Maple producer knows, spring is all about surprises. We will have to wait and see what March will bring us as it quickly approaches. Stay tuned...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's That Time of Year Again...

February 18th may sound early for some to start thinking about Maple Syrup, but this recent springlike weather certainly has us on high alert! It does seem a little early to expect a sap run just yet, but Mother Nature knows best, so we're heeding her warning and getting ready just in case. We were out in the sugarbush stretching lines on Friday, and with sunshine, blue sky, and lots of puddles, it certainly did feel like spring was right around the corner! This afternoon we hammered in the first taps of the 2011 season.

As we get busy now working in the woods, the farm will be closed for sales. Last year's crop of syrup is in fact sold out, so we hope you will all join us in looking forward to a fresh batch!

Please continue to check back here for updates as the season unfolds. We will let you know when the farm will be open for sales and visitors as soon as possible. Thanks for checking in, and fingers crossed for a long and sappy spring!