Monday, March 16, 2009
You know it's spring in Canada when the maple trees are being tapped and the smell of burning wood and maple syrup are in the air. There are Maple Syrup festivals all around us and people are sampling local syrup with their pancake breakfast, in their coffee and in the form of maple shaped fudge and candies, to name only a few.
Psychgrad mentioned that she and "R" were planning a trip to the local sugar bush near her city and I thought it was a fun thing to do so I rounded up some friends and off we went. Psychgrad and I will share our same day experiences in different cities enjoying the same thing. How cool is that?
The place I went to is a very unassuming tree farm, very rustic and no commercial fanfare about the spring festival.
As you can see, although spring is just around the corner, we still have a fair amount of snow in the outer areas of the city.
Admission to the festival was really minimal and you were met by the owner of the farm who was entirely charming and very funny. He escorted us to a tractor that was pulling a flat bed and everyone hopped on to be driven into the syrup making area.
Can you guess what this is?
I'll tell you later in the post (not a bad way to keep you reading ...he he he)
First stop - the maple cabin - this is where they feed you pancakes with copious amounts of maple syrup. As a point of interest - maple syrup starts off being 3% sugar and 97% water. Once it's cooked it reverses to 97% sugar and 3% water. All the kids entering the maple cabin were well behaved. By the time they left, they were a total bunch of raving lunatics. Here...have some more maple syrup kids, I don't have to live with you :).
When you enter the cabin there are many different sizes of maple syrup bottles for sale. Since the whole process is extremely labour intensive, maple syrup is not cheap. The 40 ml size was selling for $6.99.
See the bubbles on the surface - that's how you know when pancakes are ready to turn. In the U.S. I think these are also commonly called flapjacks, not to be confused with the cake like treat in the U.K.
Oh my!!! Could life get any better than this? And look at the maple syrup just swimming on that plate.
.... and then compliment it with a steaming cup of maple coffee.
The pots and stove inside the cabin represented process in days gone by. Not much has changed other than the evolution of the stoves.
Now that we've indulged beyond capability of movement we dragged our sorry butts out for the educational part of the experience. I hope you're able to read the information; it's actually pretty interesting.
In pioneering days, tapping the trees was done with whatever equipment could be made.
and then cooked in large pots over an open flame
Today tapping is a little more sophisticated and sanitary but not a big change
The spiritual connection between native Canadians and the earth shows the meaning of maple syrup to the culture.
One of the most impressive pieces of information was how conservation wise manufacturers of maple syrup really are. They don't tap the tree in the same place twice and give the tree time to heal. The same tree can give sap for literally centuries.
This was my experience - good learning - good food and a fabulous day to enjoy the outdoors. I know that Psychgrad had a similar but different (does that make sense?) day at her local sugar bush. She even went so far as to prepare a wonderful meal with her spoils of the day. I was not quite so ambitious so stay tuned for Psychgrad's experience in the next post.
Well - you've come this far. The picture near the top that I asked you about - if you had any idea what it was? It's a form to put evergreen trees on and tie/wrap them for shipment. Who would have thought?