If you are in Eastern Canada in March you need to visit one of the local sugar shacks. I visited the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area where and took part in the syrup festival.
The festival was really fun. However, to keep up the supply with the demand of the tourists, L.C.C.A has to use modern methods to produce syrup.
Since I am Canadian and interested in syrup myself I want to learn more about the traditional methods. I was able to connect with a family friend who helps out at a local sap farm, Sugar Maple Farms. He was kind enough to take me out there today so I could see for myself.
The farm is an interesting place, with 6 bushes and began operation in 1863. They produce a lot of syrup and sell it to their own customers and to local shops. It’s quite amazing how much they can produce without using sap lines.
The owners are really warm and friendly people who take a great deal of pride in their trade. I learned about the process of collecting the sap, boiling it down, and pressing the syrup to purify it.
The work ethic of the owners and the workers amazed me. They wake up at the crack of dawn and sometimes work in the sugar shack until 2 am. The horses pull a wagon and 4 team members throughout the bushes. Then the team collects the sap from the thousands of buckets scattered throughout the bush.
Once the tubs are full they return to the sugar shack where the tubs are emptied into an enormous vat heated by a wood fire. The Sap needs to boil to a temperature of 219 degrees before it is filtered into a press where the sand is removed and the syrup is purified. After the syrup is cool it is bottled and ready for consumption. You can also make maple candies or other delicious treats with it as well!
I was really impressed by the process and by the hospitality of the farm owners. After explaining everything to me about the sapping process they offered me a delicious lunch of scalloped potatoes followed up by amazing chocolate cream pie.
Overall, it was a really nice experience being able to see traditional methods of syrup making that date back to the mid-1800’s.
You can purchase maple products from the Chant family directly at the farm. Just give them a call in advance to let them know you are coming and they will get you sorted out.