Field Trip Friday: North Hadley Sugar Shack - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Field Trip Friday: North Hadley Sugar Shack

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

The Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the start of Daylight Savings Time and quickly melting late winter snow are all sure signs of spring ahead.

Here in New England, we also have another sign -- when maple sap begins to flow.

When that happens, activity at the North Hadley Sugar Shack picks up in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Footage from the Western Mass News Skydrone shows that there is more to the operation than just production of pure maple syrup.

They also have a restaurant that is open during the maple sugar season, as well as a market that is open year around.

Joe Boisvert, the owner of the North Hadley Sugar Shack, is no rookie when it comes to producing pure maple syrup.

“My brother and I started in our parent’s backyard when we were 8 and 10 years old,” Boisvert said. “We’ve been here at this location for the North Hadley Sugar Shack for 22 years.”

Boisvert told us that the maple sap flows only during a very short part of the year and that there are specific conditions that are needed for that sap to flow.

“Generally about a 4 to 6 week window is when the sugar houses are open and when we are actually producing that pure maple syrup from the trees. Ideal conditions are freezing nights, around 25 to 28, and low to mid 40's during the day,” Boisvert said.

Just how much sap is needed to produce a gallon of maple syrup? The answer may surprise you.

“It takes about 43 gallons of sap to yield one gallon of syrup.”

What about the process of taking maple sap and transforming it into pure maple syrup? Boisvert gave us a look at the process, which happens using a maple evaporator.

“The sap comes from a large tank out back, flows through this copper pipe into the back pan of the evaporator. We have a very, very hot fire underneath these pans,” Boisvert said.

“Approximately three quarters of the water rises up and out as steam, leaving behind the sugar that becomes hotter and thicker. You can see the nice, golden color and how it’s starting to hang, or what’s called sheeting off the old fashioned scoop. This is an indication to us that the sap has almost become syrup.”

Whether you want to get a behind-the-scenes look at how pure maple syrup is produced, enjoy pure maple syrup with a home cooked breakfast or just want to be able to purchase pure maple syrup that is locally made in Western Mass., you will want to take a field trip to the North Hadley Sugar Shack.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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