Catskill Mtn. Maple ups production in Andes
By Cheryl Petersen
Maple tree sap ebbs and flows throughout the year, however, Tom and Jo-Ann Kaufman keep a steady stream of maple products flowing all year round. In the spring, with partner, Duane LaFever, maple sap is drawn from trees and boiled down into syrup.
“Catskill Mountain Maple produces between 800 and 1,000 gallons of syrup each year,” said Tom. Most of the natural resource is sold in syrup form, however, Jo-Ann Kaufman’s creative talents also transforms syrup into multiple delights.
Sold year-round at the Catskill Mountain Maple Gifts store, patrons find gift baskets, maple coated popcorn and peanuts, maple horseradish, and a new item, maple barbeque sauce. “All the items are made in a commercial kitchen,” said Jo-Ann. “The gift store is brought into our home during the winter, and once springtime comes, Catskill Mountain Maple Gifts will be re-located to the maple house.”
Tom Kaufman has been tapping maple trees since he was 12-years old. “We started with a three foot by 10 foot evaporator that was fueled by wood,” said Kaufman. “As the business evolved, that evaporator was exchanged for larger evaporators and adapted to oil fired.” Currently, the system has a piggyback and uses a reverse osmosis piece of equipment. “The reverse osmosis is a natural way to remove up to 75 percent of the water from the sap before running the sap through the evaporator,” added Kaufman. “It’s an energy saver, like the piggyback.”
The first sap house was built in 1985. “The structure was 18 feet by 24 feet and after a series of additions, it now measures 24 feet by 66 feet,” said Kaufman. Additions not only accommodate a larger evaporator but also a new business of selling a complete line of maple production equipment and supplies. Catskill Mountain Maple is a dealer for CDL Maple Pro.
Had it patented
As of 2009, Kaufman patented an anti-microbial maple sap spile. “During sap collection, tubing systems build up a bio film that allows for bacterial growth. At nighttime, sap actually can be sucked from the tubing through the spile back into the tree, bringing along with it bacteria. The tree’s natural reaction to the intrusive bacteria is to shut down sap flow,” explained Kaufman. “But, the anti-microbial spile protects bacterial infiltration from the tubing.”
The green colored anti-microbial spile consist of a cutting-edge ion technology, the same technology used today in the medical field to protect human implants such as artificial heart valves. The nylon material is infused with silver ions, which inhibit growth of and kill bacteria. Cornell University has been collecting data on the Eco-style spout and shows a 72 percent increase in sap production. All materials are FDA approved for food and water and the spiles have a five-year life.
Tom and Jo-Ann Kaufman plan a yearly trip to attend the Cornell University hosted maple conference, each January. “We’re pre-registered to attend,” said Jo-Ann Kaufman. “It’s the largest conference in North America. They have classes to attend and we meet vendors.” Jo-Ann attends the marketing classes and brings many of the ideas home. Vendors supply unique bottles. One bottle has a picture of a red covered bridge. Bottles are also in the shape of gingerbread men, snowman, and maple leaves.
Loves to sell
“I’ve always liked marketing,” said Jo-Ann. “As a child, I remember selling greeting cards and Girl Scout cookies.” Catskill Mountain Maple Gifts is open or if you need an appointment, call 607 746-6215. A sewing machine allows Jo-Ann Kaufman to stitch fabric bags that fit snugly over pancake mix, sold with delicious upstate New York maple syrup. She also sews towels that offer a homestead feel.
After retiring from the communications department at SUNY Delhi, Jo-Ann now volunteers at the Office of the Aging in Delhi. Jo-Ann and Tom have a son and daughter-in-law who recently bought a house in Andes.
“They have a dog named, Catskill Molly Maple,” said Jo-Ann. The dynamic life near Andes on Highway 2 also takes Tom to the College Golf Course at Delhi where he has worked for 25 years, yet Catskill Mountain Maple Gifts fits into the schedule of a life near Andes.