With a couple of friends in tow, I arrived for the Dar-View Maple Farm tour on Fall Clove Road a week earlier than the scheduled event. This mistake proved advantageous for me because, since I had been asked to cover the event for the Gazette, I went armed with my camera, notebook and tons of questions. Luckily, Brad Darling received us with a gracious and informative personal tour.
Dar-View Maple is a large operation with over 2,000 taps in maple trees spanning their property and adjacent leased DEP land. The trees are connected with over a twenty-mile network of plastic line ultimately connecting the mile-long plastic tube running down the mountain into the filter and sap storage shed. A vacuum pump is connected to the sap line which increases the sap flow by three times. Cloudy white sap flows with a steady stream into a large stainless steel drum. Sap, with a natural sugar content of only about two percent, is then filtered through a reverse osmosis system to eliminate some of the water content. A sap with reduced water results in a time and energy savings because it takes much less time to boil down. In addition, the filtered water is then used to wash the circulation system.
The filtered sap is stored in another large stainless steel vat awaiting its journey into the evaporator in an adjacent building. The evaporator is yet another large stainless steel vat that brings the sap to about 7 degrees above the boiling point of water. It takes 43 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of our beloved maple syrup.
This maple producer was growing a bit concerned about the warm early spring. As the weather warms and the trees start to bud, the sap stops running. This is nature’s way of transferring the trees’ energy into their foliage. Another indicator of the quantity of sap produced is the amount of rain, or snow, the maple tree roots receive. Primarily sold locally, Dar-View Farm produces an average 615 gallons of syrup per year and as of our visit in mid March they had 450 gallons on the shelves, duly labeled according the USDA universal grading system.
I returned the following weekend with another friend. Large plumes of white smoke being emitted into the clear blue skies indicated the evaporator was in full blown operation. A crowd of visitors were huddled in the warm evaporator building, sampling Dar-View’s variety of maple syrups and treats. Sugaring time, unique to only a few areas of the world, is truly a time to celebrate our wonderful Catskill Mountains.~