In 2001, Tim Everett began making maple syrup using a small metal pan and producing only enough for his family to use. Fast forward 14 years and Everett is now producing hundreds of gallons of syrup each year by collecting sap from over 5,200 taps on his Lynk Road farm, outside Sharon Springs.
“It’s really grown over the past few years and it’s pretty exciting,” he said. “We have been able to expand our operation and it has really worked out quite well.”
Everett’s Stone House Farm is participating in Maple Weekend, a statewide event that welcomes people to farms to experience firsthand how real maple syrup and other maple-related products are made. The annual event spans the last two weekends in March and will conclude next Saturday and Sunday.
At Stone House on Sunday, the sap house was packed with customers eating pancakes, waffles and sausages, all topped with house-made maple products.
“Not only is the syrup amazing, but these are some of the best pancakes I have ever had,” said Tim Wiles, of Schenectady. “I think it’s because all of the ingredients they use are so fresh that it just all tastes so great.”
The secret to those delicious pancakes: Everett will never tell.
“I can’t tell you that,” he said. “My wife wouldn’t be too happy, just know that it’s a recipe with a few secret ingredients but the freshness of the ingredients certainly helps.”
Stone House offers 12 breakfasts each year, starting Feb. 1 and running through April. Everett says they serve 400 to 500 customers each day and he finds it is a great way to promote the maple products and show visitors the family-style operation on the farm.
“A lot of people come from all over the Capital Region and they see the coziness of the sap room,” he said. “And as buying local products has become a trend, more people have started visiting.”
For his seasonal maple syrup production, the year-round dairy farmer uses a large industrial-style wood-fired evaporator that sits in the middle of the sap house to produce the sugary condiment.
Everett said sap collection peaks when the temperature is around 20 degrees at night and around 40 during the day.
“This way everything freezes but it doesn’t have to get too warm during the day for it to thaw,” he said. “This winter it was a little tough because it never really warmed up and we had so many nights where it was around 10 degrees. But we are doing just fine and it helps that we have so many taps.”
Everett collects the thin, clear sap from the taps and pours it into the evaporator, then boils it down until the remainder is a dark, thick syrup. In the end, the maple syrup can be taken out of the evaporator when it reaches the desired temperature, typically seven degrees past the boiling point of water. Once all of the excess water boils off, all that is left is pure maple syrup. The heat reduces about 40 gallons of sap to 1 gallon of syrup, and in the process makes the sap house a warm and delicious-smelling place to spend a cold morning.
Zoe Oxley, of Schenectady, said visiting Stone House each year has become a tradition for her family.
“We love the maple syrup and the family-style atmosphere they provide here,” she said. “It is just so cozy in here and you can watch them make the syrup while you eat it. We all think that is pretty cool.”