By Alicia Dziak
According to the New York State Maple Association, “New York State is home to the largest resource of tappable maple trees within the United States, and over 2,000 maple sugarmakers.” One relatively new local maple producer is kicking things into high gear this month to bring customers the sweet, sticky goodness that they can pour over a stack of pancakes or just sip off a spoon.
Rosser’s Ridge Maple & More, located on Warner Gulf Road in Chaffee, is a family owned and operated maple producer that got its start in 2013. Owner Todd Rosser said it all started with a case of cabin fever, when he and his wife, Christine, decided to tap a few trees around their house to pass the time in the long winter months. “We hung 25 buckets on homemade taps,” Todd explained. “That first season we boiled our sap over a cinder block fire pit which led to 4 1/2 gallons of delicious dark smoky syrup. We loved it enough to consider ourselves bit by the sugar bug.”
The following year, they expanded to 200 buckets. Todd designed and built a wood-fired arch, which produced a quart of syrup an hour. The business has grown each year since, and is in line to make their fifth year of maple production their biggest and best one yet.
The Rossers begin preparing for the maple season in December, and then play the waiting game as they anticipate the first thaw (usually in late January), when they say right before is the ideal time to tap the trees. The Rossers utilize their own property, as well as four other neighboring properties, for a total of about 400 trees.
Sap is collected daily and kept cold, and the Rossers, who both work other jobs during the week, use weekends for boiling the sap down into syrup, producing about a gallon an hour. “Many, many hours have been spent out in the elements around the evaporator with family and friends,” Todd noted. “We’re always learning new tricks, making adjustments and overcoming the growing pains to produce the best maple products we can.”
Christine explained how the early season syrup is usually lighter in color and more delicate in flavor, while the late season produces darker syrup with a more robust and stronger maple flavor.
Their Grade A syrup is currently available at the Holland Hardware Store, the Valley (in Holland) and the Shamrock in Chaffee, where customers can not only purchase the product itself, but can also try it on the Shamrock’s maple barbecue chicken wings. The Rossers also offer maple candy and maple cream, a spreadable maple product. In the future, they hope to expand their product line to include maple coffee, pancake mix and maple coated nuts.
As the Rossers continue to expand their business, they have several goals in the upcoming off season, which include moving their evaporator indoors to an already-constructed building on-site to create a sugar shanty. Todd explained the benefits of doing the work indoors will be protection from the elements, and having easier access to running water and light. They also hope to eventually move to a tubing and vacuum system which can extend the season from eight weeks to about 16 weeks. “We’re hoping to build a large scale operation with multiple thousands of taps to provide maple products for wholesale and retails sales,” said Todd.
While the maple business takes up most of the Rossers’ free time during the winter months, it seems they wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s definitely a fun family adventure,” said Todd.
Rosser’s Ridge will have their website up and running in the near future. In the meantime, orders can be placed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting their Facebook page at Rosser’s Ridge Maple & More.