There's a trick to making Sugar on Snow, the treat otherwise known as cold maple syrup taffy. Corey Kieru, an employee of Riverside Maple Farms, explained to a group of onlookers Sunday afternoon that in order for the taffy to reach the correct consistency, the syrup has to be boiled to the appropriate temperature, about 230 degrees Celsius.
As Kieru poured the boiling syrup over a sheet of ice, he quickly inserted a popsicle stick into the syrup as it hit the cold surface, twirling it around until the syrup eventually solidified into a taffy-like substance. While he insisted the maple taffy is easy to make at home, customers at the shop were more than happy to take the samples he'd just made.
The Sugar on Snow demonstration was just one of several activities the maple farm hosted on Sunday. Situated on 30 acres of land with 5,000 maple trees, Riverside Maple Farms is the only maple farm in the Capital Region that is open year-round to customers.
Situated on the west side of Schenectady County off of I-90 and owned by locals Chris and Erica Welch, Riverside Maple Farms offers extensive maple tours and tastings for customers.
Customers often travel from as far as Long Island to see the farm's maple wares, said Emily Lang, the farm's head of marketing and retail management.
Guests can not only take a guided tour of the farm and learn how maple syrup is made from tree to table, but also learn about the history of maple syrup making and the Welch family.
In the store itself, guests can stock up on maple syrup, maple sugar, maple candies, maple cotton candy and more. Often, food trucks are available on site for customers.
The store was also busy Sunday, as maple syrup harvesting season approaches.
According to farm tour guides, the season will run from February to April, and the company is on schedule to start tapping trees in about two weeks.
The process of turning sap, which has a sugar percentage of about two, to maple syrup, which has a sugar percentage of over 60, involves an extensive boiling down of the sap once it's out of the tree.
Each tree on the farm, according to guides, yields about 30 gallons of sap.
Taking business one step further, the farm now is home to the Maple-Beer Trail, a quarter mile long trail that links Riverside Maple Farms to the neighboring Wolf Hollow Brewing Company.
Green maple leaf signs point the way to Riverside Maple Farms, while wolf paw shaped signs guide guests to Wolf Hollow Brewing.
Customers are able to ski, snowshoe, walk or sled on the trail back and forth between the two establishments. A grand opening party for the trail will be held next Sunday.
Inside the store, where the scent of maple hung over every corner, customers busied themselves with trying various maple products.
"It's like, layers of flavor. It's so good," Abby Chevalier, 14, said as she browsed the store's extensive maple offerings with her family, sampling one of the company's maple spreads, which come in cinnamon, raspberry, and original flavors.
Everything in the store, including the new trail, lends itself to the idea of teaching tree-to-table maple creation, while also bringing other area businesses, such as Wolf Hollow, into the fold.
"We love to see Schenectady up and growing," Lang said.