Harrisburg - A crowd watched as rapidly crystallizing maple syrup was slowly poured into molds by skilled hands during a maple sugar candy making demonstration on Wednesday, Jan. 12, at the 2011 Pennsylvania Farm Show.
Larry Hamilton, a Potter County resident and long-time maple man, explained the candy demonstration to the audience as Pennsylvania Maple Syrup Producers Council members poured warm maple syrup into maple leaf-shaped candy molds.
The syrup is brought to boiling temperature, cooled slightly in a candy-making machine and then released from the "pig" of the machine into candy molds.
Joking with the crowd, Hamilton said, "In order for spring to come, maple producers have to let the antifreeze out of the trees."
The syrup producers association made a great showing at Farm Show with two booths, live demonstrations and an educational exhibit. Visitors can even sample tasty food made out of maple, from cotton candy to frozen yogurt and sundaes, in the famous Farm Show Food Court. The producers' educational booth won the Farm Show Best Educational Display Award. Additionally, the producers won the Premier Exhibitor Award, to top of five exhibit-winning years they have enjoyed at the show.
Don Russel, a member of the maple council, explained "Most Pennsylvania natives do not know that maple syrup is widely produced in the state."
In fact, the state produced 92,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2009, valued at $3.5 million, with 464,000 taps that averaged .198 gallons per tap. It takes 43 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup.
To help combat this, the producers have organized consumer tours of map facilities and maintained a steady presence at events like the Farm Show.
The Maple Sweetheart, crowned at the producers' annual convention, also helps promote the industry. This year, Sweetheart Ekko Stimson is traveling throughout the state promoting the sweet natural food.
To find more information about the Pennsylvania Maple Syrup Producers, visit www.pamaple.com.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, featuring nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 290 commercial exhibitors. The show runs Jan. 8-15 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Admission is free and parking is $10.
For more information, visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us.
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For event photos, click here.