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Monday, March 21, 2022

Serving Breakfast as Region Celebrates Popular Crop:
Sweet Time Maple serves breakfast as region celebrates Maple Weekend

Brad, Nicole, and son Jack
It’s the busy season of the year for Brad and Nicole White of Sweet Time Maple in Middlebury. They and their family were in the midst of cooking and serving a pancake breakfast to a growing crowd Sunday morning at their Webster Road location — parents, kids, couples and grandparents.

All had arrived to enjoy a meal and Sweet Time Maple’s homemade syrup and maple products for this year’s Maple Weekend.

“Yesterday was really slow and today seems to be making up for it,” Nicole said in between checking out customers at the cash register.... We were off two years with (the COVID-19 cancellations), but before that we served about 1,000 people over all four days. We probably won’t hit that this weekend given things were quiet, but it might be close.”

This year marked Maple Weekend’s official return statewide. The event — actually conducted over two weekends — helps highlight New York’s expanding and popular maple industry.

Multiple producers in Genesee, Wyoming and Livingston counties opened their operations to visitors as part of the celebration. Part II of Maple Weekend is set for March 26 and 27.

The Whites have owned and operated Sweet Time Maple since 2016. The couple — along with family and friends — have been working for the past two weeks collecting and boiling sap, and making the multitude of maple products available.

That naturally includes maple syrup, cream and candies, along with cookies, cotton candy, maple barbecue sauce, and even maple-flavored teas and coffees.

The Whites said this year’s maple season experienced a slow start but has been improving. Maple trees typically need below-freezing nights above-freezing daytimes to get a good sap run.

The production season ends once the trees start budding, so last week’s unseasonably-warm temperatures were a concern.

Brad said Sweet Time Maple has about 24,000 taps collected at 11 different locations. He said they’re hoping temperatures this week keep the sap running for a bit longer.

It’s “all hands on deck” when the production season arrives, with family and friends pithing in.

The operation has seating for 50 people serves breakfasts during Maple Weekend mornings. It then switches to showing its production in the afternoons.

Why do people enjoy maple? “You look at our store, we have maple sauce, maple tea, maple cookies, maple syrup, maple milkshakes,” Nicole said, laughing a bit. “We kind of put it in everything I guess.

“This past week was probably our biggest maple sap production week,” she continued. “We boiled every day this week, which is not normal — you normally get a couple days here and there, a couple days off.”

The vast majority of Sweet Time Maple’s products are homemade, so the Whites and crew have also been preparing the cookies, candy, snack mixes and other treats.

Nicole has a separate full-time job, so they put a lot of time in on nights and weekends — a fact of life with which many producers are familiar. “It’s a family business so our kids are here helping, and me and my husband,” Nicole said. “(Brad) is the one who boils and his family helps. It’s crazy, it’s hectic, it’s fun — it’s what we do. Maple Weekend is our busiest weekend.” Check https://mapleweekend.nysmaple.com for a full list of Maple Weekend locations and activities.

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