It’s maple season

Bonnie Frasier pours maple syrup on a maple fritter for Vicki Lansburg of Caroga who was visiting Frasier’s Sugar Shack in St. Johnsville Saturday during the statewide Maple Open House Weekend. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

“My boys love sugar,” said Katie Buhaj of Little Falls.

She visited Frasier’s Sugar Shack in St. Johnsville on Saturday because “all morning the boys were asking, ‘Can we go to the sugar shack?’”

The maple syrup producer treated its visitors to maple fritters made by Bonnie Frasier, with maple syrup added as desired.

Area syrup producers are participating in a New York State Maple Producers Association promotion called Maple Open House Weekend that continues 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and both days next weekend.

Both Jack Cichy, co-owner with Jim Deming, of Brower Road Sugar House in Gloversville, and Bruce Frasier, owner of Frasier’s, said the weather has been generally good to them.

“We’re ahead on production because of warm days and cold nights, and most of the frost is off the ground,” said Cichy. “Most of the root systems are pumping out.”

Boiled down and processed, that has yielded 570 gallons of syrup to date, he said.

Cichy pointed out to visitors that syrup can be graded into four categories from golden colored syrup to very dark, suitable to a range of consumer tastes. While similar in calories to other sugar sweeteners, maple syrup has far more nutrients, he said.

“It’s better for you,” he said.

Similarly, Bruce Frasier has gotten 470 gallons so far toward the 650 gallons he expects for the entire season, which ends when the trees bud about mid-April. “The 470 gallons is good for this time of year,” he said.

Visitors to the syrup producers were educated about the process of converting sap to syrup. For example, Frasier showed a Aiden Buhaj of Little Falls a daily chart in which a sap yield of 1,500 to 3,700 gallons resulted in 40 to 70 gallons of syrup respectively.

He also explained to visitors how the sap is filtered through diatomaceous earth to remove particles he called sap sand. Diatomaceous earth is a silicate powder with many uses, including swimming pool filtration.

Deming demonstrated how sap is boiled down to syrup as he threw wood on the fire.

Moira and Dave Marshall of Stratford come every year to buy the syrup because Moira said she cooks with it instead of table sugar. “It’s better for you—the nutrients, and we like to support local business,” she said.

Ed and Bobbi Harrington of Mayfield came to Brower Road also to support local business and to buy the syrup because their son likes it. “You don’t have all the additives and preservatives in it,” Bobbi said.

Jessica and Sam Zimmerman of Mayfield brought their children Kyle and Kolbe to buy maple syrup, cream and candies. Also, “we came to see them boil sap to make maple syrup,” said Jessica.

“I like the real maple syrup, not the kind you buy at the store,” said Judy Senatore of Lasselsville.

“I like maple cream on toast instead of butter or jelly.”

The annual open house promotion is also a win for producers. “It brings out people quite well,” said Frasier. “I meet people I’ve never seen before.”

Two other area producers participating in the promotion are Peaceful Valley Maple Farms in Johnstown and Mud Road Sugar House in Ephratah.

By Patricia Older

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