By: Stephanie Espina
“We make life a little sweeter.”
It’s a statement that certainly characterized this year’s New York Maple Festival in Rhinebeck, New York and is the motto of the family-run Remsburger Maple Farm & Apiary. Interested spectators literally got a taste of what it is like to produce and consume one of the sweetest and stickiest natural products in the state: maple syrup
The month of March is the time of year that recognizes the production of maple syrup in the Northeast. As the third largest producer of maple syrup in the world and the second largest U.S. producer, New York is home to a number of small farm businesses that are centered on the production and sale of maple syrup. One of these businesses is the Remsberger Maple Farm & Apiary located in Pleasant Valley, New York.
“My family’s been making maple syrup for three generations,” said owner, Dennis Remsburger. “I remember when we were kids making maple syrup,” he said. “I decided that I loved it so much that I would leave my job, start the farm, and do it full time.”
The Remsburger family has about 1,500 taps installed for this year on up to 1,000 acres of land. During the season, which runs from the second week of February until the end of March, they have collected up to 500 gallons. To make their maple syrup it takes 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup when using a 3 foot by eight foot evaporator that boils the sap. In order to produce syrup, sap must boil at 219 degrees Fahrenheit, seven degrees more than the boiling point of water. They also have to eliminate 39 gallons of water to get their finished product.
“Most people don’t realize when they grab maple syrup off the shelf how labor intensive it is,” said Keith Waldron, brother-in-law of Dennis Remsburger and Resmburger Farm & Apiary worker. “Right after you collect you have to boil that collected sap immediately because you can’t store sap due to bacteria build up. It leads to a lesser quality product.”
The Remsburger family has conducted maple syrup demonstrations throughout the New York area which have attracted thousands of people each year. This was their first demonstration at the Dutchess County fairgrounds. They offered tree tapping and sap boiling demonstrations, as well as a hearty breakfast of pancakes topped with none other than home made maple syrup. “We had a solid turnout,” said Waldron. “It’s been steady so it’s been really good.”
As far as continuing the Remsburger family tradition and holding future demonstrations, Remsburger reflected on why he is in this line of work. “For us, it gets labor intensive and we do work hard, but it’s a lot of fun,” said Remsburger. “We enjoy the process…I think it’s a wholesome living.”