Learning How Maple Syrup is Made with Soukup Farm

This year, the last 2 weekends of March are Maple Weekend in New York State. A select number of farms choose to participate in this weekend by inviting visitors to their farm to see how maple syrup gets produced. Usually, Maple Weekend coincides with when farmers are collecting syrup, but when I visited Soukup Farms in Dover Plains, NY, 800 gallons of syrup were already collected! In recent years, maple season has shifted by a few weeks and has become more unpredictable due to the changing climate. Unfortunately, maple production might decrease years down the road. Farmers have to carefully monitor the weather each day to know when the sap will flow. Sometimes the season starts as early as January or ends as late as April. 

Mark Soukup grew up making maple syrup since he was eight. His family has been making syrup since the 1950's as a hobby to share with the local community. Soukup recently renovated the sugar house and updated their machinery. Mark is dedicated to making high quality fresh tasting syrup and keeping prices affordable for people to buy, despite the rising costs of running the operation.

To make the freshest quality syrup, sap is collected within 3-6 hours after its flows out of the trees, whether its early in the morning or late at night. Some syrup producers process the sap the next day, which means some of the sap has started to ferment, impacting the flavor of the finished product. Soukup boils their sap in a wood burning evaporator that reaches up to 1200-1500 degrees. As it boils, water from the sap is evaporated and emptied out. 

Follow along these images to learn about the history of Maple Syrup and how sap becomes syrup!

Here is a clearer diagram of sap flow: 

Soukup taps trees they lease in the nearby area, running lines through the maple trees, and collecting the sap in one basin. Here is an example:

Here is what maple sap looks like. The sugar content of the tree sap on the Soukup Farm is between 1%-2.5%.
A view of the evaporator from the side and second floor of the sugarhouse:

After boiling, sap is stored in metal barrels to maximize freshness. Bottles are filled right before they are ordered. 

 The finished product! We sell pints (16oz) of Soukup Syrup. 

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