MEET: Wild Hill Maple – Maple Confections & Educational Tours

Near the historically agricultural town of Salem, NY lies popular maple producer Wild Hill Maple! Whether you’re a maple syrup enthusiast or just looking for a fun and educational family outing, Wild Hill Maple is a must-visit destination.

A true reflection of the terroir of Washington County, each of their bottles captures the unique characteristics of this region’s sugar maple trees, resulting in a distinctive flavor profile. From Kentucky to Maine and beyond, you’ll find fans of Wild Hill Maple’s delicious syrup, available in golden, amber and dark varieties.

They also offer a range of sweet treats, including maple cream, maple candy, maple sugar and more. And that’s not to mention their incredibly-popular bourbon maple syrup, which is aged for 6 months in freshly-emptied Yankee Distillers bourbon barrels, giving it a subtly delicious bite.

Naturally, Wild Hill welcomes visitors curious about the maple-making process! Read on to learn more about how Wild Hill began, its production process and what to expect when you visit.

Let’s explore Wild Hill Maple, from sap collection to maple sugar!

How It All Began

As with many small businesses, Wild Hill Maple began as a hobby, and quickly grew into the full-time, year-round operation you’ll find today. Now, Wild Hill is a place where tradition meets innovation, where the past and the present harmoniously intertwine, and where the love of maple sugaring continues to flourish. Originally, owner Brian Ducharme learned the traditional method of boiling sap in an outdoor fireplace from his father. In fact, the first 4 years of Wild Hill’s maple production used this method!

Then, in 2006, Brian constructed his own sugar shack using trees cut from the property. He’d visited many other maple producers beforehand, learning each of their methods and considering how he’d best like to approach his own operation. Since then, he’s changed his process slightly as his knowledge and the industry’s technology grows.

Later, he partnered up with Julie Ryan, whose focus on marketing and education has really ramped up the demand for Wild Hill Maple in recent years. Beyond her role as the primary syrup collector during production season, Julie also gives presentations to local schools, creates packaging designs, maintains Wild Hill’s online presence and more!

The Wild Hill Maple-Making Process

The Art of Maple Sugaring

The maple sugaring process at Wild Hill Maple is a labor of love, guided by time-honored techniques refined over time. In late winter, as the temperatures begin to rise during the day and cool at night, the sap starts to flow in the maple trees.

This sap is pulled by gravity down long tubes into a collection tank at the base of each maple grove. Then, it’s transported to the sugarhouse, where it continues its transformative journey.

Inside the sugarhouse, the magic unfolds as the sap is carefully boiled down in large evaporators. Brian carefully monitors the temperature throughout the process to ensure the sap reaches the perfect consistency. As the sap boils, the steam fills the air with the sweet aroma of maple. Once it reaches the desired thickness and is filtered to remove any natural debris, the syrup gets bottled, ready to be savored by maple enthusiasts near and far.

Creating Maple Candy, Maple Sugar and Maple Cream

Wild Hill Maple isn’t just well-known for its delicious syrup – they’re popular because of their other delicious maple confections, as well!

Naturally, the process is slightly different. After boiling off a certain amount of water, the sap is put into a water bath to cool it as quickly as possible. Then, it’s put into the maple cream machine, which churns it and breaks the molecular structure of the substance as it continues to cool. Once cooled, it becomes a hard candy, which they break into chunks and put into a storage container to heat up until it’s a liquid, which is then poured into their moulds.

But Wild Hill maple candy has a special secret! To extend the shelf life and prevent their candy from getting stale, Brian borrowed a trick from another confectionery. Once it’s formed, Wild Hill boils more maple to a different degree and dips mesh trays full of the candy into it, where the candy will sit for 24 hours and accumulate a delicious, sugar crystal coating.

Want to see maple sugaring in action? Visit during Maple Weekends in March during the height of maple season!

Learn more and follow along on Wild Hill’s adventures

Follow Wild Hill Maple on social media: Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Visiting Wild Hill Maple’s Sugar House

Wild Hill Maple offers a variety of ways for visitors to experience the maple syrup production process! During the sugaring season’s Maple Weekends in March, visitors are welcome to witness the maple sugaring process firsthand and gain a deeper appreciation for the dedication and skill required to produce high-quality maple syrup.

Additionally, visitors are welcome to take a self-guided tour of the sugarhouse in any season! Wild Hill Maple’s focus on education means there are a number of explanatory signs and photos detailing what you’re looking at and its role in the process.

Plus, visitors can sample fresh maple syrup and purchase Wild Hill’s tasty maple products at the sugarhouse’s gift shop! From maple candy and maple cream to maple sugar and maple coffee, there’s something for every palate to savor.

Tours and Activities

If you’d like a private tour of Wild Hill Maple, just reach out to make an appointment! They welcome tour groups, school trips, large families and more to come learn about maple syrup making at their beautiful location near Salem, NY.

Discover Some More Uses for Maple Syrup

Of course, there are many popular uses for maple beyond pancakes and French toast! As time goes on, maple is proving to be incredibly versatile, as it’s one of the healthiest and most natural forms of sugar.  Add some to your coffee as a natural sweetener, use as a topping over vanilla ice cream or cheesecake, or use it on salmon or scallops to add a unique flavor. You’ll be surprised how its subtle sweetness elevates your culinary creations!

And maple makes great wedding favors, whether it’s in syrup or candied form! In fact, Wild Hill Maple’s special event and customization service is quickly growing in popularity due to Julie’s careful attention to detail and proven efficiency when handling bulk and custom orders. Consider offering a sweet maple treat during your next event!

Looking for more fun things to do in Washington County, NY?

Of course, visitors will also enjoy the range of other unique activities and attractions nearby! Within Salem, you’ll also find delicious food and fun events at Jacko’s Corner, classes at Salem Art Works, an unforgettable hike at the Sculpture Park and the Rooted in Salem art gallery. Plus, you’ll love getting ice cream from Battenkill Creamery or shopping from the market at Gardenworks Farm.

Explore more local options, from lodging and dining to unique experiences, events and more!

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