Archives for the month of: April, 2014


Yellow and red Tulip flower.

Tulip flower – a sure sign of spring

Liz has lived in the Hudson Valley for 26 years – her father gave her first camera at 17 and he inspired her to go and explore!

Her favorite time to take pictures is when the seasons are changing.

Story Farm fields in the spring mist NY.

Story Farm

Story Farm is located in Catskill and has been farmed by the Story family since 1896.

Rip Van Winkle Bridge in the spring NY.

Rip Van Winkle Bridge from the grounds of the Beattie Powers House

The Beattie Powers Place is an 1837 Greek Revival Mansion in Catskill which hosts a program of live performances of classical music.

Pink and white Magnolia flower in the spring NY.

Magnolia – a tree that grows well in the Hudson Valley

Montgomery Place NY in the spring.

Avenue of trees at Montgomery Place

Montgomery Place is located in Annandale-on-Hudson and was built in 1805. It is one of many historic houses in the Hudson River valley which are now open to the public.

Orange Arunculus flowers.

Orange Ranunculus flowers



During Liz’s free time away from work and family, she will drive around and explore the sights of the Catskills, the Hudson River valley and surrounding areas.

Leaf in creek NY.

Mape leaf in creek

The beauty of the seasons inspires her work and sense of wonder and joy!… “I’ll get back in the car and explore-on!”

Pink Sweet Pea flowers.

Sweet Peas at Farmers Market

Liz will point out what she sees through her perspective to her friends who have always lived around here. “They tell me they never looked at this area that way before”.

Orange Poppy flower.

Orange Poppy – a deer resistant perennial

Liz plans to visit the grounds of Vassar College in May.

“It’s just beautiful with a stream running through it. Dutchess (County) is further along season-wise than Ulster County because it’s lower down the mountain. The change in altitude makes a big difference.”

Daffodil gift.

Daffodils self-sow in our area, and the wildlife does not eat the bulbs or plant

Liz’s photographs may be seen and purchased at the Dancing Tulip Floral Boutique in Saugerties New York.


Platte Creek Maple Farm, Saugerties NY. March 2014.

The Sugar Shack

From a distance I could smell the maple syrup in the air and see the clouds of steam in the sky. This was the second ‘weekend open house’ for the Platte Creek Maple Farm, owned by Chris Genson and Pete Lavalle.


Platte Creek Maple Farm is a member of the New York State Maple Producers Association

During the open house visitors were invited to observe the syrup production process and enjoy a scrumptious breakfast of pancakes with dark syrup. The process is fascinating and because of the limited harvest period (six to eight weeks), it requires long hours, dedication and hard physical work. Pete patiently explained the steps …

Maple syrup collection tap.

For a healthy tree with a 12-17″ diameter trunk, one spile (tap) is used. For an 18″ diameter trunk, no more than two spiles

Spiles (taps) are inserted into holes in the maple tree trunk.  The sap is clear and runny like water and it flows into a tubing system or bucket.

collecting maple syrup in metal bucket.

Metal sap bucket attached to trunk, the lid keeps rain and insects out

External temperature variations enable the sap to be harvested. When the temperature is above freezing, pressure inside the tree forces the sap out of the spile. When the temperature drops below freezing, internal pressure drops, suction develops and the roots take up water which replenishes the sap.  These fluctuating temperatures last about eight weeks during February and March.

maple syrup collection buckets and gravity tubing.

About 1,200 trees are tapped on the Lavalle Family farm

When the trees form buds the harvesting is over because the sap develops an unpleasant ‘buddy’ taste.   Red or Black Maple trees can be used, but the Sugar Maple has the highest sugar content, best flavor and longest season.

maple syrup collection using gravity tubing.

Gravity tubing collects between 10 and 20 gallons of sap per tree

A system of gravity tubing is in place. Gravity draws the sap down the tubes towards a stainless steel collection tank at the rear of the sugar shack.

maple syrup collection tank at the rear of the sugar shack.

You can see the blue vacuum pump atop the collection tank

The blue vacuum pump above the stainless steel collection tank increases the quantity and speed of syrup extraction. When there is about 1,000 gallons of sap in the tank, the evaporation process starts.

Firewood at Platte Creek Maple Farm, Saugerties NY. March 2014.

Firewood is harvested at the farm

Wood is used to heat the Evaporator which boils the maple tree sap.

sugar shack sign.

This style of sign is classic Hudson Valley

Inside the Sugar Shack…

reverse-osmosis machine.

Reverse-Osmosis machine

Behind these doors, a reverse-osmosis process forces the sap at high pressure through a membrane and removes some of the water. A pre-heater warms the sap before it goes into the evaporator.

Wood burning sap evaporator.

It’s nice and warm inside the sugar shack!

The evaporator boils the sap, removes water and concentrates the solids (primarily sugar). Sap is about 2% sugar –  syrup must contain 66% to 67% sugar on the Brix scale (a measure of the sugar content of an aqueous solution)

Adding firewood to the sap evap

Pete Lavalle adding firewood to maintain temperature

The correct boiling temperature for the sap varies by day according to the barometric pressure.  When I visited the optimum  boiling temperature was 218.5 degrees F.

Bucket of maple syrup.

This bucket will be filled with syrup from the evaporator.

maple syrup production equipment.

Maple syrup production equipment.

The sugar content of the sap determines how many gallons of syrup can be produced from it. For example, if the sap has 2% sugar it would take 43 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup.

maple syrup Finisher.

Maple syrup finisher

The bucket of syrup is poured into the finisher.

maple syrup filter.

Maple syrup filter

The syrup is filtered.

maple syrup grading samples.

Maple syrup grading samples

These color standards are used to grade the syrup – the darker the syrup, the more intense the flavor.

holding tank for maple syrup.

Pre-bottling holding tank

Syrup is stored in bulk and then bottled in glass or plastic  containers.

bottle of pure maple syrup.

Pure Maple Syrup is considered an organic product and is rich in amino acids and minerals

This bottle contains Grade A Dark Amber syrup.  Dark Amber has the strongest flavor – a sweet caramel-maple flavor. It is great on pancakes or french toast and is the preferred syrup for making baked goods. Delicious!

Plattekill Creek, Platte Creek Maple Farm in S

Lovely clear water from the snow melt

The Plattekill Creek runs through the farm. It was named by the first European settlers who were from the Netherlands. ‘Plattekill’ translates as ‘flat creek bed’ in the Middle Dutch language.

Platte Creek Maple Syrup sign.

When the harvesting season is over the taps and tubes are removed, cleaned and stored for the following year.

Platte Creek Maple Farm

808 Glasco Turnpike, Saugerties New York

Tel: 845 853 4240


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  • Would you like to try some Platte Creek Maple Farm syrup? Adams Fairacre Farms or other local stores carry a great selection.
  • If you are in New York during February/March, check out the Maple Weekend events. There are about 150 producers who host open weekends






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