Maple syrup on the way!

There is nothing quite  like the maple syrup time of year, and I have spent more years than I can recall working the sugar bush. Times I will never forget..not easy work, mind you, but extremely rewarding and tasty!

What a blast it was – running lines, repairing breaks, tapping, watching the evaporator, taking-off the syrup and running the old creaky canner. The whole operation is a hoot right down to the moment when that first batch of syrup comes off…man, it tastes awesome when its warm.

There is a certain science involved in any maple syrup operation; from understanding the sap’s sugar content at various times of the year, knowing the colour, taste and density of different grades of syrup, to skills like understanding how to build and maintain the perfect fire to keep your evaporator going steady. Its not as easy as its sounds!

Then there’s moment when the ‘webbing starts’ at precisely 7 degrees above boiling point of water, and your pure maple syrup is ripe for the picking, or pouring I should say.

Old school syrup producers have never used modern gauges and I’m sure never worried about it either. They can read more in the webbing off their ladle than a thousand sophisticated gauges could ever that is science in itself.

The final product, well, it is a thing of beauty and there is really nothing in the world that compares to the taste of fresh maple syrup, or taffy on snow.

Canada produces 90% of the world’s supply of maple syrup(majority from QC) – a statistic we should be extremely proud of.  It is a big part of our heritage just like hunting, fishing or the fur industry. 

Now get out there and enjoy some pure Canadian goodness!! The forecast looks good for sap to run over the next few days and lets hope favorable temperatures remain long enough for another great season!

I just heard from our pal Ian MacDonald who will be out in the sugar bush this week!




20 thoughts on “Maple syrup on the way!”

  1. I have been buying syrup from a local guy for years now and he has a modern gas fired, reverse osmosis system. Last year I was given a bottle of syrup produced outdoors in a kettle over a wood fire. OMG what a difference. Thicker ,sweeter, and that distinct smoke flavour .Now I know why syrup never seemed as good as when I was a kid.
    I too have many fond memories of working in our neighbours sugar bush as a kid.
    Don’t get me wrong ,todays syrup made the modern way is still awesome just different.
    At Last spring has sprung!

  2. As long as you know what you are eating .. seen in some parts of quebec some guys charged with using illegal products that can kill the trees and people. what some guys won’t do to make a extra dollar or two. my buddy is getting trees tapped just a mater of time now can’t wait for the sausages to come off the stove now …mmmmmm

  3. 100 buckets out. Hope to have a gather Tuesday night. Maybe first boil Wednesday or Thursday. Racoons are starting to show up.Still lots of snow in the bush.

    1. Yup..sure signs of spring all around, the coons are out and I have a skunk wandering around my property.

      Looks like boiling weather on the way, Ian!

      Chessy, if you can dig-up some info on the QC incident, Id love to read it….


  4. More than a dozen maple syrup producers stand accused of illegally boosting harvests with a chemical that can kill trees and even people.

    Paraformaldehyde has resurfaced in Quebec more than 20 years after it was banned.

    The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (FPAQ) told QMI Agency that it has sanctioned 15 cheaters over the past three years.

    FPAQ said the harvesters sprayed tapholes with paraformaldehyde, which can prevent scarring around the hole, thereby increasing sap production.

    However, the chemical can also kill maple trees and is a suspected cancer-causing agent.

    Insertion of paraformaldehyde capsules, the old cheating method, was banned in 1991. Some producers have since obtained a paraformaldehyde spray that’s just as dangerous and invisible to the naked eye.

    FPAQ inspectors have since updated testing methods, analyzing tree samples instead of relying on visual inspections.

    Producers are pleased, pointing out that cheaters could jeopardize Canada’s entire syrup industry.

    “You really have to have no conscience to use (formaldehyde),” said Chantal Ouimet, a sugar shack owner in Havelock, Que.

    “Imagine if our major importer, the United States, decided to stop buying our syrup because of a handful of bad apples, like they boycotted our beef during the mad cow crisis.”

    Offenders are severely punished.

    They can have their entire year’s production downgraded to industrial syrup, which pays $1 less per pound.

    Canada produces 80% of the world’s maple syrup.STEPHAN DUSSAULT, QMI AGENCY

    Billions of the PFA “pills” have been sold in the United States and Canada over the past 30 years. Continued use of the PFA pellet is an environmental hazard to the maple tree. The pellet is presently an unrecognized pesticide in both countries but is still extensively used. In the 1960’s, research scientists in New York and Michigan developed a pellet made with 250mg of PFA. The pill if inserted in the taphole wound of the sugar maple would retard the growth of microorganisms well into the maple sap flow season, hence increasing sap flow volume. The research indicated that negligible (less than 2ppm) residue would result in maple syrup. The PFA pill was then approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to be manufactured by maple industry suppliers. A fifty six (56) month study conducted in Vermont in 1978 on a large number of maples, using successive longitudinal wood dissections, indicated that the xylem of the PFA-treated maple tapholes showed longer and wider compartmentalized areas and a higher incident of decay than that of the non PFA treated tapholes. Ongoing research in Wisconsin sugarbushes has confirmed these earlier findings, although indicating that the PFA does not injure the cambium around the tapholes or slow their closure. The above findings suggest that the continuous use of the PFA pellet results in greater xylem vessels occlusion than normal to the sugar maple sap flow and nutrient…

    1. That’s weird Chessy, lived in the province for 30 years and never heard of that stuff…sounds nasty! No way of telling if you actually may have consumed some of that crap over the years either..scary!!


  5. We’ve decided not to make our own this year 🙁

    Although it’s been said that the product produced by small production lines is superior to larger commercial operations, the cost per gallon is higher.

    1. That’s right Trapper..there’s a huge amount of work involved in small to mid-size operations! The one I worked would be considered mid-size, I suppose..about 1000 trees tapped using gravity feed system. Faster and more efficient than pails, but nothing compared to the huge vacuum system operations!

      The QC government operates a sugar bush in an area of our deer woods with an estimated 60,000 trees and vacuum system. Lines are up all year and I’ve always wondered what deer and moose do when tangled in those sap lines! Never saw any evidence of it but I always wondered.

      Too bad you’re not doing it this year, Trapper, but I understand the labour involved. You certainly couldn’t do it for the money and turn a profit based on man-hours! Some years we made no more than 30 gallons of good syrup after weeks of set-up and operating costs..and other years it was closer to 100!


  6. Just finished tapping my trees yesterday. We did about 100 on Saturday, hoping that there would be enough by last night to be able to boil. Unfortunately the sap is really slow so far in my neck of the woods. Most buckets only had a tiny bit of sap in them. Now the forecast for the next 10 days does not look good at all. Mother Nature sure isn’t making things easy on us, or the deer!

    1. Yes, sureshot-dave its been a tough one all around!

      Just heard from a buddy of mine back home in the mountains..he was outside his house yesterday evening just before dark when 4 deer went tearing across his driveway at full speed! Following very close behind was a coyote chasing after them. My buddy ran down the driveway and get in front of the yote and turned it across the road! In my experience, March is an extremely tough month for deer..just before the melt with max snow depth on the ground. Over the past few winters, most of my local deer have been taken down by coyotes in March. Which is unfortunate because a few more weeks and they’d be home free!

      Hope the weather turns around boys..back home they haven’t even bothered tapping yet.

      imacdon, 65 litres is a helluva lot of syrup!!


  7. Picked up 25 gallons of sap last night. I need about 70 for a boil. We are back to the deep freeze. I don’t make any money out of maple syrup. It’s something I do after ice fishing and before turkey. If the weather co-operates. It looks like it’s going to be hard to beat my 65L of syrup last season.

  8. I know of at least 3 dead deer on the property we hunt, and that’s just what I have found next to the trails we use for getting around on the Argo. What else is out there, out of sight. There’s been snow on the ground for close to 4 months now, with no end in sight. This looks like a very bad winter for the deer.

    1. sureshot-dave, is this more dead deer than you’re used to seeing in your area for this time of year?


  9. hey just my neighbour in almonte had to go outside an see why his dogs were barking early in the am and found a coyote in the field eating something once the sun was up i checked it out and it must have got into someones garbage ,each year they get closer to homes in the country ,fortunately my dog wasn’t out she passed away march 3 due to mouth cancer ,had to put her food and water dishes away for now. the loss is terrible not a moment goes by i miss the dog more than anything but looking forward to adopting a rescue dog soon and giving love to another pet and a chance at a great life have a good day

  10. We found another kill on our hunting trails. That makes three this winter, and winter isn’t over yet. The last one we found was quite recent and there was quite a bit of meat left so we put the trail cam on it. We got some very good photos of the killers coming back for a snack. We also got some good shots of foxes and a fisher.

    1. Hunting Mom, winter kill is a fact of life in our northern deer woods although some years are (much) worse than others…we’ve been lucky the past couple of seasons allowing whitetail numbers to slowly rebound.

      I have a feeling this year will be a proverbial kick in the nuts! I’m actually too scared to go back into my deer woods for fear of what I might find…


  11. Outdoorsguy,

    I can’t remember a winter where we found 3 dead deer. I’m sure they were out there, just didn’t happen so close to our trails. I wonder if this year, because of the deep snow the deer have been using our trails more and more, which means the coyotes are using our trails more. I’m afraid of what I will find once the snow melts and I can actually take a walk through the woods…

  12. Boiled another 40 gallons of sap over the weekend. Made a little over 5L. Its been a slow season. 10 1/2L so far. Thanks for all the comments about Duke. I’m hoping to have new stories about my new dog Jed this fall. Maybe sooner. Jed lives outside. So far he does
    not like racoons or flying squirels. He’s starting to remind me of Duke.

    1. Tell Jed to leave the flying squirrels alone and focus on the coons! I think sap boiling weather is on the way!!


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