MALONE - Titus Mountain is now in the maple syrup business.
The process begins with tapped sugar maple trees on opposite sides of the mountain. Titus Mountain Director of Marketing and Information Technology Dene Savage said there are between 6,000 and 6,500 vacuum lines running from the trees to the newly-built sugar shack. They dont use the buckets that many are accustomed to seeing.
The sap is pumped from the trees to one of two collection stations. From there, it travels to upstairs containers in the sugar shack and is then fed through a reverse osmosis process that takes out 80 percent of the moisture. A chemical-free filter similar to those used on swimming pools also removes sediment and impurities at this point.
Its much more cost-effective than heating and boiling it, Mr. Savage said.
At this point, the sap goes back up to a second vat in the sugar shack upstairs and is taking on a consistency closer to actual syrup. The next step in the process is for the sap to go into the primary evaporating chamber.
Each stage removes moisture and increases the sugar content, Mr. Savage said, later adding that the syrup has no sugar added beyond what is there naturally. Thats why they call them sugar maples.
The machine is separated into cavities and channels, which Savage said introduces heat and brings it to a boil. He added that the cavities prevent hot spots from forming, which can ruin a batch.
Once that process is complete, the syrup is bottled and sold at the mountain as Moon Valley Maple Syrup, a tribute to the mountains early days as Moon Valley ski hill. The logo incorporates the original Moon Valley emblem superimposed over a maple leaf.
Maple syrup production is nothing new to Titus. Mr. Savages brother, Dan Savag,e ran a much smaller sugar back in the Moon Valley days. That building is still standing and is used in the current process.
The current sugar shack was built in about 5½ weeks by Shawn McLane, a local builder. Chris Monette, a Titus Mountain co-owner, said they are still calculating the cost because they are still adding equipment.
We want to keep expanding it, Mr. Monette said.
Mr. Savage added there is enough demand for local maple syrup that existing makers wont feel Moon Valley Maples presence.
They will be giving away free samples of the new syrup at this weekends Mountain Madness event, held Saturday and Sunday.