Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Sugaring Off

It's Maple Syrup Time at Bruce's Mill Conservation area.
Who can resist a stroll through the maple woods in the spring sunshine to see how the maple sap is collected and learn about the process that turns it into maple syrup?
I joined OlderSon and Callum, and YoungerSon and The Bride for a spring adventure.

But first, we needed some sustenance to provide energy for our walk through the woods, so the first stop was at the pancake restaurant. Mmmmm ... pancakes and sausages with butter and Maple Syrup! You can't get a much more Canadian breakfast than that! The Breakfast of lumberjacks.

Callum made short work of his sausages, he's a good eater!

And then a stroll through the sugarbush. The sap is collected in the spring, and the weather conditions have to be just right.... cool nights and warm sunny days.

The maple tree is tapped and a spile is inserted into the hole in the trunk, and a bucket hung to collect the sap that drips out. But that's the traditional way to collect the sap. Behind the bucket you can see green plastic piping that is hung from tree to tree and the sap is suctioned through the lines by a central vacuum pump.

The First Nations people made maple syrup by heating stones in the fire and putting the hot stones in a hollowed out log filled with sap. It was their only form of sugar, and it was used as a flavouring and to tenderise meat.

But when metal cooking pots became available, the process of evaporating the sap became a lot faster.

Samples of finished syrup for tasting. So syrupy and sweet. Let it run across your teeth and rest on your tongue... there's no taste quite like it! Calories? Who cares!

Then a stop at the sugarshack. The modern method of sugaring off... a big gas fired boiler that evaporates the sap. When the temperature of the syrup reaches 103C it's ready. OlderSon has tapped the maple trees on his property this spring, and has made his own maple syrup, so he was interested in talking maple syrup talk to the man in charge.

And the finished product for sale in the shop.

All those pancakes and sausages needed to be walked off, so Callum did some exploring all on his own.

Walking around outside and exploring the different textures of grass and leaves and trees is a new experience for him after being snowbound most of the winter. Hooray for spring!


  1. MMMMM..Maple syrup!
    There is nothing like it. When you see how much sap goes into making the syrup it explains the price..LOL

  2. One of my favorite childhood experiences was seeing how syrup was made, and then getting to sample some delicious maple sugar candy.

    Some folks buy "syrup" made from corn syrup and other things. I never buy anything but pure maple. Once you've recognized the difference, you can never stomach that other stuff.

    And my word verification is (I kid you not) "ingest".

  3. A fine post! It's great with the photos and story, too. Now, if I could only get a sampling of that syrup... ;-)

  4. makes me want pancakes for lunch...who would know but me....Callum is adorable and such a big boy......

  5. That place looks familiar. We went to a that place or somewhere similar and did the tour. I love Maple syrup and have some in our cupboard. You can skip the sausages for brekkie though so I'll be the wimpy lumberjack.

  6. When we were on our New England/Canada cruise years ago, one of our excursions was to a Maple Syrup farm, Sham. We loved it! From that trip, I bought on eBay a maple syrup bucket (in which I hold dried flowers) and several vintage spiles which I just sold on eBay for a good price. :) Thanks for the memory! And that Callum sure is precious!!!

  7. No pancake would be complete without maple syrup!

  8. That's great your son is tapping his trees this year. I've never been to a sugaring off but it looks like tons of fun. Especially eating the pancakes smothered in syrup. ;-)

  9. What a fabulous day. Ummm Maple syrup is so yummy. Thanks for the series of syrup tapping. Very interesting.
    I can't believe how big Callum is getting. Fun to see him walking around and exploring his world.

  10. What an elaborate process! Thanks for posting those pics. And doesn't that breakfast look yummy! But my favourite pic is the one of Callum sitting in his high chair with syrup all over him. What a little sweetie!

    Glad you had such a good outing.

  11. Very enlightening Shammi. Thanks. Maple syrup is expensive here but we use artificial maple syrup with added NZ honey made by our local sugar refinery from cane sugar. It still tastes great. It's also cheaper. Bet it's not as nice as the real thing though! - Dave

  12. Mmmmm. I looove Maple Syrup! I have such fond memories of sugarshacks. In the French part of Canada, big parites are organized where specialties made with Maple syrup are served and of course, there's music and dancing to go with it.

  13. mmm...now i'm craving pancakes and sausage! Looks like a great way to spend a spring day.

  14. Seems like it was a very sweet day - well spent.

  15. How cooo tap your own trees and make syrup!!

  16. My grandparents sent away to Vermont every year for gallons of maple syrup, maple sugar in hard blocks, and maple fudge. It had to last all year and the syrup was a special treat on vanilla ice cream!

  17. Yes, hooray for spring, especially this way! :-)

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