Monday, August 22, 2016

sweet as…

No, this is not another New Zealand post, though Canada is well forested and filled with beautiful lakes and good hiking. Happily North America remains the center of maple syrup production.

I gave into my true identity as a tourist today and stopped off at Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm for a tour led by Tom, who opened this family business a few years ago fulfilling a lifelong dream. 

Tom and his wife came from Quebec and his wife hails from a family that owns sugar shacks (cabines a sucre). 
They have 100 acres planted with 3200 maple trees. 

Here's a tree with a tap in it.

It takes 40 gallons of maple sap to produce just 1 gallon of syrup. A typical tree produces .8 liters per year. The season in March and April runs 3 to 6 weeks. Short but sweet.
The sap is then reduced through reverse osmosis and boiling. 
The goal is to end up with 66% sugar. Not 65. Not 69.
The syrup is heated by a wood-burning oven. You can see the taps on the side. 

This cut was from Big Maple, a tree that lived over 400 years and was planted prior to the French arriving in Quebec.
As you can see, Tom has quite the collection of maple syrup paraphernalia. These are molds. I used to love maple sugar candies from Vermont when I was little.
We saved the best part for last. Maple syrup comes in 4 standard concentrations—but these are all from the same tree. I got a bottle of golden and a bottle of amber just in case. I also learned the iconic maple leaf flag of Canada was not adopted until 1965. 
Jen, my hostess in Muskoka, grew up in Northern Ontario, and said they would eat snow cones drizzled with maple syrup. I can't wait to try it.