BUCKHANNON — In honor of the 36th Annual Pickens Maple Syrup Festival coming up, Rotarians invited the man who started it all back in 1984, Mike Richter of Richter’s Maplehouse. Richter was happy to give Rotarians informative details about the production of locally tapped maple syrup.
Richter hosts one of West Virginia’s largest and most modern Maple Sugar Camps. Richter and wife Beth, boil thousands of gallons of sap every season to create maple syrup, maple sugar, maple candy, and even the rare delicacy, maple cream.
Richter explained that maple syrup is surprisingly comprised of 98 percent water. Richter explained that if there is a warm winter, such as the winter we have had thus far, the syrup is typically weaker because less sugar is produced. Also, “Some trees are sweeter than others,” Richter explained. Richter has 5,000 trees, which produce a gallon of sap per tap hole. Richter produces 5,000-10,000 gallons of sap a day through a process utilizing a reverse osmosis system, which runs the sap through and separates, creating pure water, which Richter used to bottle himself.
The chemicals of the tree are constantly changing throughout the seasons, Richter explained. Trees with larger canopies that are more abundant in leaves are typically sweeter, according to Richter. Richter can produce 600 gallons of sap an hour with their gravity fed system that has 5,000 trees tapped. For Richter, the sap generally flows the last two weeks in February and the first two weeks in March, which he said may vary depending on where the trees are located and weather conditions.
Richter also brought samples of sap for Rotarians to taste, which is clear in color and surprisingly lacks the taste of syrup.
To enjoy some of Richter’s maple syrup, join the expected 2,000 visitors in Pickens, West Virginia on March 21 and 22. There will be live music, arts and crafts, great food, an abundance of pancakes and buckwheat, and a photo show from the B-U Camera Club.